Walgreen Boots Alliance (WBA), the US health group which has has owned a stake in the high street pharmacy chain since 2012, is lining up advisers from Goldman Sachs to consider a potential sale next year, Sky News reported.
A possible stock market listing for the Nottingham-based retailer and pharmacist, which has more than 2,000 outlets and employs 55,000 people, could be on the table, as well as a private sale.
WBA said it would not comment on “market speculation” and that Boots was “an important part of the group”.
However, a spokesperson added: “It is accurate that WBA announced a renewed set of priorities and strategic direction for the group in October, which includes a more pointed focus on North America and on healthcare.
“As underlined during the last WBA investor conference, the group continues to be very pleased with the performance of Boots and the international division as a whole.
“In line with the group’s long-term healthcare strategy, Boots UK continues to expand its healthcare offering. Furthermore, boots.com continues to grow above expectations, having more than doubled sales when compared with pre-pandemic levels.”
Speculation about a potential sale of Boots has risen in recent months given its new business focus and the $6.5bn (£4.4bn) sale of its European distribution arm, Alliance Healthcare, in June this year to AmerisourceBergen. Estimates of the company’s potential sale price range from £5bn to £12bn.
Boots, which was founded by Quaker John Boot in 1849, joined up with Alliance Unichem in 2006, handing control to Italian billionaire Stefano Pessina. The renowned dealmaker then brought about the even bigger merger with WBA, where he is currently chairman.