August 16, 2022

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The US owner of Boots is exploring a sale of the retail chain to focus...

The US owner of Boots is exploring a sale of the retail chain to focus on its North American business, potentially undoing billionaire Stefano Pessina’s 2014 blockbuster transcontinental merger.

Illinois-based Walgreens Boots Alliance pharmacy giant is lining up Goldman Sachs Group to advise it on a review of options for the UK-based retail business that could include a sale of the unit next year. Walgreens could also choose to list Boots as a separate publicly traded company or keep the business.

Shares of the company rose as much as 4.2 per cent on Friday in New York after Sky News reported on the review process.

Walgreens has been shifting toward expanding into other healthcare businesses in recent months, as pharmacies face increased competitive pressure from Amazon and other online retailers. In October, it agreed to invest $5.2 billion (€4.6 billion) in primary-care provider VillageMD, doubling its stake in the company.

Speculation

“Walgreens Boots Alliance does not comment on market speculation and Boots is an important part of the Group,” the company said in a statement. “However, it is accurate that WBA announced a renewed set of priorities and strategic direction for the group in October, which includes a more pointed focus on North America and on healthcare.”

Mr Pessina, 80, remains the company’s chairman and largest shareholder, though he handed the reins this year to new chief executive Roz Brewer. As recently as 2019, Mr Pessina had been reviewing a potential deal with a financial adviser to take the company private amid buyout interest. – Bloomberg

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