Asda owners still in running for Boots buy, others drop out - report
The auction for dominant health and beauty chain boots in the UK has seen some key developments this week, according to a report, with one major consortium dropping out but the owners of Asda still in the running.
Sky News reported that a consortium made up of Bain Capital and CVC Capital decided against submitting an offer last week with the issue believed to be the very high price being sought by owner Walgreens Boots Alliance. It was something of a surprise given that CVC partner Dominic Murphy was involved in the potential bid and has been closely linked to Boots for more than 15 years. He’s also on the WBA board.
The consortium's exit from the bidding reportedly leaves only a few names still interested. They include Asda, Apollo Global Management and Sycamore Capital, with indicative offers of more than £6 billion having been submitted.
None of the parties involved have commented on their involvement.
As well as the actual purchase price, another issue is the size of the £8 billion Boots pension scheme, which is one of the largest such schemes in Britain. It's well funded but it's believed that its trustees would also seek additional funding if a leveraged buyout of the company happens.
Boots has more than 50,000 employees and operates over 2,000 stores in the UK. It has faced challenges in recent periods, not least because of the pandemic, but it has seen its fortunes recovering of late.
While it will be interesting to see what private equity buyers might do with the business, it would also be interesting to see how Asda would handle such a purchase. Based on the pattern set by the Sainsbury's purchase of Argos, it could mean branches would close and many could reopen within Asda stores.
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