Sale option

Boots’ US owner eyes possible £7bn London listing

Boots could return to the stock market

High street chain Boots could return to the stock market under proposals by its US owner to sell the 1,900 stores.

Walgreens Boots Alliance is said to have revived the sale plan after it recently agreed to transfer Boots’ £4.8 billion pension scheme to Legal & General. Boots will sever all responsibility for pension promises to 53,000 members, the UK’s largest single transaction of its kind.

The American owner of Boots is now said to be looking at a follow-up plan to offload the chemist chain which could be valued at about £7 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Walgreens, which took control of Boots in 2014, last year shelved a plan to sell it because of adverse market conditions, but it has since faced repeated calls to break up its business and focus on its home market.

There were expressions of interest from the Issa brothers, who recently acquired Asda, and from the Indian conglomerate Reliance, as well a Apollo, the private equity group.

A London listing for Boots is understood to be the preferred choice for its managing director Sebastian James in what could also be a boost for the exchange after a series of IPO setbacks.

London has been blighted by companies opting for New York listings. In a major blow this year, Cambridge chipmaker Arm decided to list on Wall Street despite a campaign by politicians to persuade it to pick London.

Boots made a shock departure from London in 2007 when Alliance Boots became the first FTSE 100 firm to be bought by a private equity firm, before it was later acquired by Wallgreens.

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