Stocks in the News: NVS, ACL, CHK, TOT, TWC

The following is a round-up of news likely to affect stock prices today:

Novartis
(NVS) has raised its stake in eye-care company Alcon (ACL) to 77% by buying Nestlé's majority stake for $28.1 billion, the Swiss drug giant said Monday, and has set its sights on acquiring the rest. Novartis acquired an initial stake for $10.4 billion last year, and is offering remaining shareholders as much as $11.3 billion in its own stock for the remaining 23% of Alcon, also based in Switzerland. The deal is subject to customary approvals including a vote by Alcon's board and review by regulators.

Total
(TOT) has struck a $2.25 billion deal with natural-gas company Chesapeake Energy (CHK) to enter the U.S. shale-gas market, the companies announced Monday. The French energy concern will pay Chesapeake $800 million in cash and another $1.45 billion to fund 60% of the Oklahoma City company's drilling costs. Shale gas is extracted from rock formations using pressurized water and chemicals, and is becoming an increasingly popular way for companies to drill for gas. The deal involves exploration in the so-called Barnett Shale, situated in north-central Texas.