US pharmacy chain Walgreens has entered into a £4.27 billion (US$6.7 billion) cash and stock deal to acquire a 45 per cent stake in health and beauty giant Alliance Boots.
The combined business will create "the global leader in pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing retail", with more than 11,000 stores in 12 countries.
The deal, set to be completed by September, will also create the largest global pharmaceutical wholesale and distribution business with more than 370 distribution centres delivering to more than 170,000 pharmacies doctors, health centres and hospitals in 21 countries.
Walgreens will have the option to buy the remaining stake in Alliance Boots after three years. Stefano Pessina, executive chairman of Alliance Boots, said: "This strategic transaction represents a further vital step in achieving our vision of becoming a global healthcare leader."
In a joint statement, Alliance Boots and Walgreens said that there were "no plans for job reductions at either company".
"Alliance Boots remains committed to its current support offices across Europe, including the UK, as well as keeping the Boots operational hub in Nottingham," the statement said.
Mr Pessina added: "The fit is natural, Walgreens' consumer profile in the US is similar to Boots in the UK in many ways: a trusted and much-loved pharmacy brand with a strong heritage. Our pharmaceutical wholesale businesses will provide their logistics know-how to Walgreens and are well placed to be one of the growth engines of the new enterprise."
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