* Novartis says committed to Sandoz
* Swiss newspaper reported on split-off plan
* Spokesman says Sandoz remains pillar of Novartis (Adds comment from company, details throughout)
ZURICH, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis is "completely committed" to its $10 billion-per-year Sandoz generics business, a spokesman said on Thursday, after a newspaper reported Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan planned to split the unit off.
"We're completely committed to the Sandoz business, and we're looking at transforming it and making it as strong as it can be in the global generics business," Novartis spokesman Sreejit Mohan told Reuters.
Earlier, Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reported the Basel-based drugmaker was preparing to split off Sandoz, citing an employee representative as well as participants in a Novartis investor event last week in London.
According to the newspaper, Narasimhan outlined plans for the generics business to become an independent unit for which Novartis was reviewing "all strategic options".
Mohan said that Sandoz will be given more autonomy to navigate the dynamic generics environment, where the company has been under price pressure and in September sold its U.S. pills business to Indian's Aurobindo.
Still, keeping Sandoz as a pillar of Novartis remains "the fundamental focus right now", he said.
"The whole goal is to try to make Sandoz as agile as possible, to compete in that environment, to give it the autonomy to be as agile as possible," Mohan added.
"That's essentially been the message that we've been delivering, so I have no idea how that led to saying 'split off."' (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Adrian Croft)