Walgreens and Alliance Boots to buy stake in US drug group

Kasmira Jefford
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WALGREENS and Alliance Boots have struck a 10-year deal with US drug distributor AmerisourceBergen that will also allow the two pharmacy giants to buy up to a 23 per cent stake in the wholesaling company.

The pair said yesterday the deal will see AmerisourceBergen distribute branded, generic and specialty drugs to Walgreens’ US network of 8,000 stores, mail order and specialty pharmacies.

They have also been granted the right to buy up to seven per cent of Amerisource’s shares in the next 12 months and warrants to purchase an extra 16 per cent.

Alex Gourlay, head of Alliance Boots’ health and beauty division, told City A.M. that while primarily an American deal, it marked a “significant step” in its merger with Walgreens that will eventually see the creation of the world’s largest pharmacy group.

Walgreens bought a 45 per cent stake in Alliance Boots in June last year for £4.2bn, with an option to buy the 55 per cent remaining stake in the next two years.

“The pace at which this has happened following the original Walgreen and Alliance Boots deal shows how much the market is changing in healthcare and how much momentum we have in anticipating that change,” he said.

Gourlay added that the deal would help create vertical integration between a wholesale and a retailer in the US similar to what Alliance Healthcare has with Boots pharmacies in the UK.

Amerisource, which has a market capitalisation of about £8bn, said the deal, effective on 1 September, is expected to contribute an incremental $28bn in revenues in 2014.