Walgreens, AmerisourceBergen in acquisition talks: reports

Updated Feb. 13, 1:03 p.m.

Walgreens Boots Alliance reportedly is interested in a potential acquisition of AmerisourceBergen. Representatives of WBA CEO Stefano Pessina reached out recently to AmerisourceBergen CEO Steve Collis’ representative about acquiring the roughly three-quarters of the distributor that WBA doesn’t already own, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter.

According to the WSJ report, the companies are in early talks to combine, though sources reportedly stressed the uncertainty as to whether there would be a deal. As a result of the report, AmerisourceBergen shares increased roughly 12% after market close. In response to Drug Store News inquiries, Walgreens declined to comment on the news, and AmerisourceBergen said the company’s corporate policy is not to discuss rumors or speculation about possible mergers or acquisitions.

News of the potential combination of the companies — which recently added three years to their 10-year distribution partnership through which Walgreens Boots Alliance gained a roughly 25% stake in Valley Forge, Pa.-based AmerisourceBergen — comes as CVS Health is in the midst of its $69 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna. Both moves come as Amazon continues to make overtures in the healthcare space — forming an insurance company with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase for the three companies’ employees and steadily acquiring pharmacy wholesale licenses in various states.

Walgreens’ market cap was $67.8 billion and AmerisourceBergen’s was $19.6 billion as of Feb. 12, according to Nasdaq.