Sale of Walgreen’s Boots in Flux in UK

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The multibillion-pound sale of U.K. drugstore Boots has been derailed after a possible buyer walked away and several bidders raised concerns about financing a deal in the midst of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, Financial Times reported Tuesday (March 1).

A consortium of Bain Capital and CVC Capital, which had been the leading candidate to buy it from U.S.-based Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), didn’t make a bid before a deadline.

However, there were some early nonbinding bids from U.S. buyout group Apollo, as well as from the owners of supermarket group Asda. The Asda group offered two options, in which either the supermarket group or its owners could lead the process.

There was also interest from New York’s Sycamore Partners, which owns Staples — and whose senior adviser John Lederer is on the board for WBA — but there wasn’t clarity on whether that group had submitted a bid.

The pharmacy-led chain had been put up for sale by WBA in 2021, and it plans to focus on retailing and expanding medical services. Boots has over 2,000 stores in the U.K. and was expected to attract a lot of buyer interest, but the field seems to be narrow.

An anonymous source said that Walgreen’s intention to “move at pace” was different from the way the process was being conducted.

PYMNTS wrote that in January, a surge in positive COVID cases had led to staffing shortages at some CVS and Walgreens locations. There were also other retailers like Macy’s and Walmart, and some supermarkets, that had the same issue.

Related: Staffing Shortages Cause CVS, Walgreens to Close Some Pharmacies on Weekends

Neither CVS nor Walgreens could say how many stores would be closed because of the rapid changes in numbers, and often the short notice that employees had because of viral infections. A Walgreens spokeswoman said at the time that most stores were open at regular hours.

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