EU give go ahead for Alliance Boots take-over

By Louise Prance

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Private equity firm, Kohlberg kravis roberts, Stefano pessina

Private equity firm KKR is one step closer to acquiring Boots
Alliance following the European Commission clearance of the
proposed take-over.

The EC has cleared the proposed bid by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and executive chairman Stefano Pessina under the EU merger regulation as of June 18, paving the way for one of the biggest European acquisition by a private equity firm. Following the essential EC clearance, the total take-over bid o£11.1bn for the UK's leading health and beauty store highlights the importance the company holds within the personal care industry. In a bid to fend off competitors KKR and Pessina have agreed to pay £418m to the Boots Pension Scheme over the coming ten years. The battle to obtain the established chain of stores has been heated, with rival investors, such as private equity firm Terra Firm and medical charity, The Wellcome Trust, offering similar amounts - news that sent shares in the company soaring in price. Following a £7bn merger with chemist chain Alliance Chem last year, the Boots chain has become a highly valuable company, with over 2,600 stores in the UK and now having over 400 overseas outlets in Italy and Thailand. Indeed, the company has also made strong ties in the US, retailing many of its own brand cosmetic in the well-known Target department stores, and also expanding the No7 range across stores in Canada only last month. However, industry concerns over the moral agenda behind the private equity firm's take over proposal of the 150-year-old UK company have been raised. KKR is said to cite growth, not asset stripping as its main objective. However, press reports claim that there are concerns surrounding job security and store closures amongst the work force. Pessina has tackled this by voicing his concerns that the company is being exposed to the media interference and, through going private, will escape the public spotlight. Instead he wants to 'accelerate the development of Alliance Boots in order to meet the challenges and opportunities that are faced and to build a successful global pharmacy-led healthcare and beauty group'. However, with Pessina, 65, expected to net over £1bn from the proposed acquisition before his 70th​ birthday, industry observers say it would be one of the fastest billion ever made by a private individual. KKR previously applied for a take-over in March, but was rejected because the offer was to low.

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