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updated: 4/14/2014 12:53 PM

Report: Walgreen pressured to move HQ to Europe

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  • Walgreen Co. is under pressure from some investors to move its headquarters to Europe from Deerfield.

      Walgreen Co. is under pressure from some investors to move its headquarters to Europe from Deerfield.
    GEORGE LECLAIRE | Staff Photographer

Daily Herald Staff Report

Deerfield-based Walgreen Co. was under pressure by a group of shareholders to relocate its headquarters to Europe to take advantage of tax breaks, a published report said Monday.

The Financial Times reported the shareholders met privately last week in Paris to discuss the possibility and lobby the pharmacy chain to leverage its stake in Swiss-based Alliance Boots to move, which would reduce the company's tax stake in the U.S.

The group included Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and hedge funds Jana Partners, Corvex and Och-Ziff, according to the report, and the meeting was staged after they were frustrated by Walgreens' refusal to consider relocating, the Financial Times reported.

The Financial Times said such a move, known as an inversion, would be one of the largest of its type to be attempted.

As well as pushing the executives to consider an inversion, the shareholder group told Walgreen executives at the meeting they wanted Boots' management team to have a larger role in running the merged business.

Walgreen Co., already the largest drugstore chain in the U.S., acquired a share in Alliance Boots in 2012 in order to expand its operations into Europe. Alliance Boots is a health and beauty chain with more than 3,000 stores in 25 countries.

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