The New Year starts with a massive — though widely expected — deal as Novartis (NOVN.VX) says it plans to buy the rest of eye-care group Alcon (ALC.N) for almost $40 billion. The seller is Swiss food group Nestle, which as it happens is sometimes mooted as a rival for  Kraft’s (KFT.N) hostile 10 billion pound bid for Cadbury (CBRY.L). The British chocolate maker’s shares nudge up 4 pence to above 800 pence after media reports that Kraft is set to raise its offer. But markets were expecting a higher bid anyway.

And shares in Japan Airlines Corp (JALSF.PK) jump 31 percent as the country’s government looks to secure funds to prevent the carrier from running out of cash.

For more on these and other deal-related stories from Reuters, click here.

In other media:

National Australia Bank (NAB.AX) is gearing up for a takeover of nationalised British lender Northern Rock (NRKx.L) and has held a “beauty parade” of potential advisers on the deal, British newspaper The Observer reports.

The Samsung Group’s life insurance unit may sell a stake in Samsung Card Co Ltd to retailer Shinsegae Co Ltd to help the parent group unwind a cross-ownership structure, the Korea Economic Daily says.