Walgreens Boots Alliance Chief Executive Officer Stefano Pessina says he still believes in his company’s purchase of Rite Aid, but declined to say whether the companies will extend the deal just three days from their agreed deadline to complete the merger.
The acquisition hasn’t yet received antitrust approval from the Federal Trade Commission, and Walgreens hasn’t made a key filing saying it’s answered all the agency’s questions. Once it does, that would give the FTC another 30 days to decide whether to approve the deal or sue to stop it. The companies had agreed to close the planned $9.4 billion merger, which would create the largest drugstore chain in the US by number of stores, by Friday.
Extending the deadline “is a matter for the boards,” Pessina said Tuesday in a meeting at Bloomberg’s New York office. “I cannot anticipate what they will do.” He said he had been instructed by his lawyers not to comment further on what might happen.
Walgreens would likely have to pay Rite Aid a $325 million breakup fee if either side walks away. A Rite Aid representative declined to comment on the deal or whether the companies are planning to extend the deadline. A representative of Fred’s, to whom Walgreens and Rite Aid proposed to sell 865 stores to try to gain approval on the Rite Aid deal, declined to comment.
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