Walgreens Rite Aid Purchase Hits Antitrust Snag
With 13,200 stores in 11 countries including over 8,100 in the USA, Walgreens Boots Alliance, home to the venerable Walgreens drugstore brand, made big news in October 2015 when it announced its intention to acquire national drug chain Rite Aid. Rite Aid’s 4,600 stores across the US would join Walgreens in a mega-deal — pending approval by the Federal Trade Commission.
Compliance Moves Might Involve 1,200 Walgreens Stores Sold
But the FTC may be wary of Fred’s move, and rival drugstore chain CVS reportedly has pointed out to the FTC what it says are similar deals gone bad. CVS executives say that the sale to Fred’s isn’t sufficient to ensure competition. They compare the situation to Safeway’s sale of 146 stores to Haggen Holdings in 2015 in order to win antitrust clearance for its merger with Albertsons. Haggen eventually went bankrupt and sold some stores back to Albertsons in the process.
Some observers have never been all that sanguine about the deal’s prospects, considering the skepticism the FTC (at least in the Obama era) has shown against some mega-mergers, including deals involving retailers. Last May, for example, regulators scuttled a proposed $6.3 billion tie-up between rivals Office Depot and Staples, despite Amazon’s entry into the office supplies retail and business contracts spaces.
Walgreens Store Counts By State
What locations are likely to be affected by the acquisition moves? The inventory of saleable Walgreens stores roughly matches population distribution by state, even though Florida tops the list with 831 stores, followed by Texas (713) California (633), and Illinois (598). The chain claims that 75% of the US population lives within five miles of a Walgreens.