Bain and CVC exit £6bn Boots auction as market in flux
The multibillion-pound sale of Boots has been derailed after a possible buyer walked away and several bidders raised concerns about financing a deal in the midst of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine.
A consortium of Bain Capital and CVC Capital, which had been the leading candidate to buy it from U.S.-based Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), didn’t make a bid before a deadline.
However, there were some early nonbinding bids from U.S. buyout group Apollo, as well as from the owners of supermarket group Asda. The Asda group offered two options, in which either the supermarket group or its owners could lead the process.
There was also interest from New York’s Sycamore Partners, which owns Staples — and whose senior adviser John Lederer is on the board for WBA — but there wasn’t clarity on whether that group had submitted a bid.
The pharmacy-led chain had been put up for sale by WBA in 2021, and it plans to focus on retailing and expanding medical services.
Walgreens Boots and the private equity firms all declined to comment. Dominic Murphy, also a member of WBA’s board, had been overseeing CVC’s preparations for a possible offer and had recused himself from board discussions about the process.
An anonymous source said that Walgreen’s intention to “move at pace” was different from the way the process was being conducted.
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