Walgreens Boots buys bigger stake in AmerisourceBergen

 
Associated Press
Updated 3/18/2016 4:03 PM
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  • Walgreens Boots Alliance, the parent of Walgreens, is buying a bigger stake in AmerisourceBergen, which is one of their suppliers.

      Walgreens Boots Alliance, the parent of Walgreens, is buying a bigger stake in AmerisourceBergen, which is one of their suppliers. GEORGE LECLAIRE | Staff Photographer

Deerfield-based Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. Friday said that it is spending nearly $1.2 billion to build its stake in AmerisourceBergen, the pharmaceutical wholesaler that supplies its drugstores, mail order and specialty pharmaceutical businesses.

The nation's largest drugstore chain says it will own a 15 percent stake after exercising warrants to purchase 22.7 million shares.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. started building that stake in 2013, when the companies entered a 10-year supply agreement. Walgreens still holds warrants to buy another 22.7 million shares in the Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania, company.

By combining its distribution in the United States and Europe with AmerisourceBergen, Walgreen will be able to negotiate better prices for those bulk drugs, the company has said. In addition, it said it will have new access to more specialized drugs.

There is pressure on the health care industry, from pharmaceutical makers to sellers, to cut medical costs, especially as millions of Americans adapt to the Affordable Care Act. Consumers have also reduced their own spending on prescriptions, making it even tougher to increase profitability in the business, experts say.

The deal gives AmerisourceBergen and Walgreen a boost in size that can help them negotiate better prices.

Walgreens runs more than 13,000 drugstores in 11 countries. It plans to boost that total by buying rival drugstore chain Rite Aid Corp. for more than $9 billion, a deal expected to close later this year.

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