DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) is reportedly seeking to acquire drug distributor AmerisourceBergen Corp.
The Wall Street Journal reported on February 13 that representatives of WBA executive vice chairman and chief executive officer Stefano Pessina made “a high-level outreach” to representatives of AmerisourceBergen CEO Steven Collis several weeks before the story came out. The article cited people familiar with the matter. WBA wasn’t available for comment, and AmerisourceBergen said it doesn’t discuss potential mergers or acquisitions, the Journal said. WBA is valued at $67.82 billion, and AmerisourceBergen has a market capitalization of $19.65 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.
WBA already has a 26% to 27% stake in AmerisourceBergen as a result of their long-term strategic partnership. WBA would buy the remaining shares under the deal being considered, according to the Journal, which noted that an offer has not been made. Last year, Walgreens was AmerisourceBergen’s largest customer and accounted for 30% of its revenue.
“Media speculation that WBA is in talks to acquire AmerisourceBergen doesn’t come as a complete surprise, given WBA’s current 27% stake in AmerisourceBergen and their remaining option to bump this stake to 30%,” Jefferies analyst Brian Tanquilut wrote in a research note.
Under a 10-year pact formed in March 2013, Walgreens and AmerisourceBergen expanded their relationship to a 10-year primary distribution agreement for branded and generic drugs. The agreement also included global supply chain opportunities for AmerisourceBergen, which began accessing generics and related pharmaceuticals through the Walgreens Boots Alliance Development (WBAD) joint venture of then-merger partners Walgreens and Alliance Boots. In another part of the deal, Walgreens and Alliance Boots were granted the right to buy a minority ownership interest in AmerisourceBergen.
In May 2016, AmerisourceBergen and WBA announced that they were extending the partnership for another three years. That meant AmerisourceBergen’s contract with WBA and relationship with WBAD were extended to 2026. The deal also included an enhanced commitment from WBA to use AmerisourceBergen as its key U.S. distribution partner. Meanwhile, WBA has gradually increased its equity interest in AmerisourceBergen, exercising warrants granted under the long-term partnership.