Private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the executive deputy chairman of Alliance Boots are weighing whether to make a higher joint bid for the British high street chain, the Times said on Tuesday, without citing its sources.
The report came after the board of Alliance Boots on Monday rejected an initial approach from KKR and Stefano Pessina worth 9.7 billion pounds (US$18.79 billion) -- a move the Financial Times said had been expected and marked the start of a process.
"This is the very first price," an unnamed insider close to the board was quoted in the FT as saying.
The Times, for its part, quoted anonymous sources close to the situation as saying the board's decision to reject the approach had been unanimous. "They came to a very clear view that this wasn't enough. Clearly we'll now have to see whether or not they (KKR) have something else to say," one source told the newspaper.
Comments were not immediately available from Alliance Boots or KKR.
The company, created last year from the merger of health and beauty retailer Boots and drugs wholesaler Alliance Unichem, said on Monday the KKR and Pessina approach undervalued its prospects.
Pessina owns 15%of Alliance Boots and helped mastermind last year's merger.