Apr 11, 2022
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Boots could be sold at a steep discount - report

Apr 11, 2022

The Boots business could be sold at a big discount to the asking price with news that one bidder was willing to pay only £4 billion for the high street and online retailer.

Boots No7

Boots may be the UK’s dominant health & beauty retailer, but buyout funds CVC and Bain were only prepared to pay £4 billion for it before bowing out of the bid process last month.

That’s according to a report in The Telegraph.

And while bidders exiting the race isn’t exactly an unusual sight when a huge takeover is in the works, the concern is that CVC’s UK head is Dominic Murphy, who’s on the parent company — Walgreens Boots Alliance — board and has been involved with Boots for 15 years.

The worry is that if someone so close to the UK business doesn’t value it anywhere near the £7 billion WBA is believed to want, why would anyone else?

Walgreens took control of Boots in a £9 billion deal in 2014 and wants £7 billion for the business after selling the wholesale arm in 2021.

And last week it emerged that WBA could retain between a 15% and 30% stake in the business on concerns that raising the billions needed to buy it outright could be tough in the current climate.

The business runs over 2,000 stores and employs 50,000 people and CVC/Bain had once been seen as being in prime position to take over, although they didn’t make a formal offer in the end.

The Asda-owning Issa brothers, Apollo Global Management and Sycamore Capital are still in the running, so it’s clearly in demand.

Boots may have had its struggles in the past few years, but its latest results showed it getting back on track under MD Sebastian James. Last month the company reported a 22% sales rise and talked of its “rejuvenated store portfolio and increasingly powerful online presence”.

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