US pharmacy chain buys out Swiss-based rival
Shareholder of US pharmacy chain Walgreens has approved a $16 billion takeover of Swiss-based rival Alliance Boots that creates a global leader in the drug store business.
Walgreens said that 97 percent of its shareholders approved the company's acquisition of the remaining 55 percent of Alliance Boots it does not currently own.
"The transaction will fully combine the two companies to form the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise," said Walgreens, which has more than 8,200 US stores.
The deal involves reorganization into a holding company structure, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., with Walgreens a wholly owned subsidiary.
The combined company will be headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, where Walgreens is based, and will have more than 11,000 stores in 10 countries. The wholesale operations will have a presence in some 20 countries.
Boots operations will continue at its current British headquarters in Nottingham.
Stefano Pessina, the Alliance Boots executive chairman, will lead the new company as acting chief executive.
Walgreens announced earlier in December that president and CEO Greg Wasson would step down shortly after the deal closes.
Walgreens chairman James Skinner is to become the executive chairman of Walgreens Boots Alliance.
Walgreens said the transaction is expected to be completed on Wednesday. The combined company's shares will trade under the ticker symbol WBA on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
Shares in Walgreens were up 0.4 percent at $76.77 in early-afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 2012, Walgreens acquired a 45 percent stake in Alliance Boots, based in Bern, Switzerland, for $6.7 billion, with an option to buy the rest for about $9.5 billion.
In August Walgreens said it would exercise that option but that it would not combine with Alliance Boots under a foreign parent company in a controversial "tax inversion" that provides shelter from US taxes.
Walgreens said it had abandoned the idea in part because of public opposition to inversions and the fact that a major portion of its revenues come from government-funded reimbursement programs.