Drugs giant Novartis has paid €2.79bn for a 20% stake in its struggling domestic rival Roche . Both companies are adamant however that the deal does not pre-empt a full-blown merger, and the Novartis purchase has been described as a long-term investment. Dr Daniel Vasella, Novartis chairman and CEO, commented: "This is a long-term financial investment, which is also strategic in nature."