Reliance and Apollo team up for £5bn Boots bid
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, which is one of India’s biggest retail groups (and owns UK toy store Hamleys), has teamed up with major investment group Apollo Global Management to table a £5 billion bid for the UK health and retailer. The proposed deal would enable its US parent to keep a stake of about 30%.
Although falling short of the original £7 billion price tag placed on the retailer, observers say the offer makes the joint bidders clear frontrunners.
According to reports, the bidders have already developed a plan to expand Boots into India and elsewhere in Asia, which appeals to WBA, as being a stakeholder means it can benefit from future growth without committing its own finances.
Apollo has long been interested in the UK retail market, having been rumoured to have been eyeing M&S and the Morrisons supermarket chain. It also backs the Alteri fund, which bought the Missguided online fashion retailer shortly before it went into administration and has since been bought in a cut-price deal by retail group Frasers earlier this month.
However, it remains unclear if other interested parties, including the UK-based Issa brothers that own Asda and their private equity partner TDR Capital, will launch a rival bid. Global private equity funds, CVC and Bain Capital, have also considered making an offer for Boots but are understood to have stepped back as they were not prepared to pay more than £4 billion.
Walgreens, which bought Boots for £9 billion in 2014, hired bankers from Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for the business at the end of last year. Then it had put a £7 billion price tag on the UK chain after selling its wholesale arm - Alliance Healthcare - in 2021 for £4.8 billion.
Boots, which operates over 2,000 stores and employs about 55,000 staff, has not commented.
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