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Swiss stocks - Factors to watch on Nov. 21

ZURICH Nov 21 The Swiss blue-chip SMI was seen opening 0.14 percent higher at 7,916 points on Monday, according to premarket indications by bank Julius Baer .

The following are some of the main factors expected to affect Swiss stocks.

NOVARTIS

The Swiss drugmaker confirmed on Friday has abandoned a 2016 goal to start testing its autofocus contact lens on people, though it said the product it is making with internet giant Google is "progressing steadily."

Novartis also dissolved its 400-worker research department for immuno-oncology, SonntagsZeitung reported, saying Jay Bradner, the new head of the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, was dissatisfied after the company failed to keep pace with rivals including Roche, Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

On Monday, the drugmaker also said it had acquired Selexys Pharmaceuticals and the SelG1 antibody for reduction of pain crises in sickle cell disease in a deal that could total up to $665 million in upfront, acquisition and milestone payments.

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CREDIT SUISSE

The Swiss bank has moved more than 1 million customers into a new Swiss bank which goes live on Sunday, a step towards what could be Switzerland's biggest stock market listing in more than a decade.

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ORASCOM

Egyptian billionaire Samih Sawiris said Switzerland relies too much on its "fantastic nature" and too little on customer service, SonntagsBlick reported on Sunday, adding he is considering so-called VIP lines for paying guests at his resort in Andermatt in central Switzerland.

Orascom Development Holding, the Sawiris-led, Swiss-listed company, also said on Monday that its Omani subsidiary Muriya has signed a development agreement with Oman's Ministry of Tourism to develop a city walk in the heart of Muscat.

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ZURICH

Chief Executive Mario Greco sees no general trend for an upswing in interest rates, he said over the weekend in an interview with Neue Zuercher Zeitung. Greco reiterated a tentative plan to distribute a dividend at or above 17 Swiss francs, adding "we cannot guarantee this and it's too early to speculate about this".

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COMPANY STATEMENTS

* HNA says it had extended its offer from May to buy shares of Gategroup Holding until the end 2016.

* SHL Telemedicine said on Friday it had lost a tax appeal in Israel, creating a liability of $5.5 million owned to the Isreal Tax Authority.

* Leclanche said it had signed a strategic global alliance with Narada Power and would do joint manufacturing in China to achieve scale and cut costs. Narada will make an equity investment in Leclanché alongside licensing for technology transfer.

* Clariant said the sourcing and using of non-halogen flame retardant products from some Chinese companies may lead to infringement on Clariant patents for its Exolit products.

ECONOMY

S&P Global Ratings on Friday affirmed Swiss Confederation 'AAA/A-1+' ratings, with outlook stable. The agency said it believes Switzerland may hold another referendum weighing bilateral agreements with the European Union against the limitation of immigration in the next one to two years. (Reporting by Zurich newsroom)

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