Alliance Boots buying stake in Chinese firm

City A.M. Reporter
ALLIANCE Boots, the owner of Europe's largest pharmacy chain, announced yesterday it will buy a 12 per cent stake in China's Nanjing Pharmaceutical at a cost of around £56m.

The deal, initially announced more than a year ago, will strengthen Alliance Boots' ties with China's government and regulators.

Alliance Boots executive chairman Stefano Pessina, who turned his family's wholesale pharmaceutical company in Italy into a business empire through a blizzard of mergers and acquisitions, is now eyeing 20 to 30 per cent of the Chinese pharmaceutical distribution market.

"In 10 years, I hope we will be one of the major players in China or we will be, together with other companies, part of one of the major players in China," Pessina said.

Alliance Boots is 45 per cent owned by US-based Walgreen.

Shanghai-listed Nanjing is China's fifth-largest pharmaceutical wholesaler, with sales of around 20bn yuan (£2bn) in 2011, and has a market capitalization of $682m (£420m). Jiangsubased Nanjing has distribution centres in 12 cities across eight provinces and one autonomous region.

Pessina said the firm wants to expand in Latin America through further direct investments.