Nestlé has said it will continue to look for further acquisitions in a bid to strengthen its drive into health and wellbeing, following its sale of shares in US eyecare firm Alcon.

The food giant today (7 April) said it was open to investing more than its previous, self-imposed ceiling of around US$2bn annually in such acquisitions. The company said it will use some of the  proceeds from the sale of Alcon to drug firm Novartis for this purpose.

"Year after year we are looking at acquisitions and we will keep on looking for companies that fit with us but at the moment nothing is on the horizon," Nestle spokesman Francois-Xavier Perroud told just-food. "If anything dramatic and important comes up then we will consider it."

Yesterday, Novartis announced an agreement to buy Nestlé's 77% stake in Alcon for US$39bn. The company will first acquire 25% for US11bn and then the remaining 52% for US28bn at a later date.

"The strategic direction of Nestlé has been towards health, nutrition and well being," said Perroud. "Today we are able to sustain the Nestlé model through regular improvement and additions of food and beverage along these lines, made possible by the Alcon sale.

"We have over the past years already focused on food and wellbeing and I would say that I don't see anything major that would lend itself to further divesting at the moment."