Essilor, which sold its former contact lens business to Ocular Sciences, has denied a report that it is interested in acquiring CIBA Vision. With the strong development of Novartis' pharmaceutical business, the world's second-largest contact lens company is becoming less of a core activity for the Swiss-based conglomerate, and in fact it is no longer broken down in the group's financial report. The latest one says that CIBA Vision suffered a sales decline in the 4th quarter of 2005 because of a ?lens care supply issue? which offset the successful roll-out of its new line of O2Optix contact lenses. On the other hand, Novartis is proposing the 9th consecutive increase in dividends since the company's establishment in 1996 following excellent overall results for the past year. The group's net and operating income both rose by 10 percent, reaching margins of 19.8 and 22.3 percent of sales, respectively, with the pharmaceutical sector delivering 12 percent higher operating results. Total revenues increased by 14 percent in dollars and by 13 percent in local currencies, reaching $32.2 billion.