In a move that will create the world’s largest pharmacy chain, Walgreen will pay $6.7bn for a near-half stake in the UK’s Alliance Boots.
Famous on the British high street for decades, Boots is actually much larger than the average Brit would realise, with more than 3,300 healthy and beauty outlets internationally. This makes it a serious competitor – and therefore a sensible acquistion – for the American Walgreen, which will buy Boots in a cash and shares deal.
The deal could evolve into something more serious in the coming years however, as the deal gives Walgreen of buying the remainder of the Boots share by 2015. At the given price, this would value Alliance Boots at $9.5bn. This is an impressive valuation for the company which was founded in Nottingham in 1849 by one Jesse Boot.
The deal would allow Walgreen to get some significant traction in Europe, where Boots is currently the largest retailer in health and beauty the sector. It also has a huge wholesale business providing drugs and treatments to doctors and other wellness services internationally.
As part of the deal, the current Boots executive chairman Stefano Pessina will join Walgreen’s board. In order to keep shareholders sweet, Walgreen has also agreed to up the dividend from 22.5 cents to 27.5 cents. If the full takeover eventually comes to pass, Walgreen will have a portfolio of almost 11,200 stores throughout the US and Europe.
Everything still needs to be approved by the regulators, but for the time being it is safe to assume that another high street stalwart in the UK will now be under American ownership.