The company, which has a market value of over US$55bn, owns the second-largest pharmacy stores chain in the US and the largest in the UK.
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In an exclusive report, the newswire said there have been preliminary talks with private equity firms to organise what would be the biggest-ever leveraged buyout, with investment bank Evercore Partners asked to assess whether a transaction can be put together.
Such a move would need to involve several private equity firms, at a time when there is less enthusiasm for the so-called club deals following the 2008 financial crisis.
Chief executive Stefano Pessina, the company’s largest shareholder with a 16% stake, may help finance the buyout, while the board has been considering selling assets – such as the 27% stake in drug wholesaler AmerisourceBergen Corp. (NYSE:ABC) – to raise funds.
In full-year results published last month, Walgreen reported a 21% plunge in net earnings to US$4bn and predicted “roughly” flat growth in 2020, due to a challenging operating environment.
Walgreen shares were up 1.8% to US$62.10 in pre-market trading on Wednesday.