Deals and IPOs

Walgreen confirms Boots takeover in non-inversion deal

A Walgreens store on June 19, 2012 in San Francisco, California.
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U.S. giant Walgreen announced a close-to-£6 billion ($10.1 billion) cash and shares deal to buy the remaining stake in U.K. drugstore chain Alliance Boots on Wednesday morning.

The company confirmed the long-anticipated purchase of 55 percent of the company, a U.K. high street staple, which Walgreen does not already own, for £3.13 billion ($5.27 billion) in cash and 144.3 million Walgreen shares, on Wednesday.

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What's surprising is that it will not make the deal part of a controversial tax inversion. Walgreen had been tipped as the next big U.S. company to try and cut its tax bill by taking over a European company and relocating its headquarters. However, it said on Wednesday it was going to keep its headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois.

The company said it had considered an inversion structure, but "concluded it was not in the best long-term interest of our shareholders to attempt to re-domicile outside the U.S."

Close to 200,000 people signed an online petition pledging to boycott Walgreens stores, which get the overwhelming majority of their sales from the domestic U.S. business, if it relocated overseas for tax reasons.

The new company will be called Walgreens Boots Alliance.

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Walgreens to acquire Boots
Walgreens to acquire Boots

Such deals are under a political shadow in the U.S., with President Barack Obama openly backing a bill to claim back some of the tax saved through previous deals, which is currently deadlocked in Congress. Many large corporates have responded by calling for the U.S. tax system to be reformed.

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Walgreen bought 45 percent of Alliance Boots in 2012, and aims to complete its full takeover of the company between February and April 2015. It will gain a stronger international presence, and possibly the largest pharmaceutical distribution network in the world, as a result.

Frankfurt-listed shares of Walgreen traded around 4.1 percent lower ahead of Wall Street's open on Wednesday.