Walgreens And Rite Aid Still “In Discussions” With FTC On The Merger Deadline

Image courtesy of Nicholas Eckhart

Today, Jan. 27, is the deadline for Walgreens and Rite Aid to close the merger that they announced way back in October 2015. The companies didn’t ask for an extension or call the transaction off, so what’s going to happen to this deal?

Walgreens Boots Alliance, the drugstore chain’s parent company, offered $9.4 billion for the smaller Rite Aid. Because the two chains overlap in a number of markets around the country, they will have to close or sell off hundreds of locations to satisfy antitrust regulators. This includes 865 Rite Aid stores that will go to regional chain Fred’s, though that proposal is still being evaluated by the Federal Trade Commission.

The CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Stefano Pessina, had to say something about the deal during the company’s annual shareholder meeting in New York City yesterday, but there wasn’t much that he was allowed to say.

“The only thing I can repeat is that we are actively engaged in dialogue with the FTC and we are doing everything we can to support their work,” he told shareholders.

A former FTC attorney told Reuters that it would normally take at least two months for the agency to evaluate such a large divestiture, meaning that we shouldn’t expect to hear a final decision from the FTC until Feb. 20 at the earliest.

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