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Private equity giants in £7bn Boots battle

Bidding war for Boots hotting up with three of world’s biggest private equity houses among contenders

The bidding war for Boots is hotting up with three of the world’s biggest private equity houses among the contenders. 

Apollo Global Management, TDR Capital and Sycamore Capital Partners are leading the way in the battle to take control of Britain’s biggest High Street chemist. 

The process is entering its final stages and it has been estimated the chain could fetch as much as £7billion. 

Bidding war: The process is entering its final stages and it has been estimated the chain could fetch as much as £7billion

Bidding war: The process is entering its final stages and it has been estimated the chain could fetch as much as £7billion

Four firms are understood to have given presentations to Boots’ management team and potential buyers are expected to submit second round offers ‘around Easter’, according to a source close to the process. 

They include Asda, owned by TDR and the billionaire Issa brothers, which is hoping to take over Boots and combine it with Asda’s stores that already operate some UK pharmacies. Mohsin and Zuber Issa bought Asda for £6.8billion in 2020, with the backing of London-based TDR. 

Sycamore Capital Partners is also understood to have made a presentation to Boots management. Just a week ago the buyout specialist confirmed it is considering a takeover of struggling fashion chain Ted Baker. 

And Apollo is also among the bidders. The New York-based firm has lined up bankers to help finance a takeover bid, Sky News reported. 

Apollo’s interest comes just two weeks after news emerged that it approached publishing and education specialist Pearson with a bid worth £6.5billion. 

But Pearson has so far rejected Apollo’s advances. Bidders who have fallen by the wayside include Bain Capital, who were tipped as early favourites when Boots was put up for sale. 

They joined forces with private equity house CVC Capital Partners but the consortium is thought to have been put off by the price. They declined to put in an initial offer but are thought to be still circling in case the price drops. 

Boots was founded by Quaker John Boot in 1849, selling herbal remedies and now has 2,263 stores and 51,000 staff. 

In its most recent financial year it booked £131m in profit. 

The business merged with European pharma firm Alliance Unichem in 2006 to become Alliance Boots. 

It has a history of private equity ownership having been taken over in 2007 by KKR before merging in 2014 with another American giant, Walgreens. 

The Walgreens empire was created by renowned Italian dealmaker Stefano Pessina, now its executive chairman. 

Walgreens put Boots up for sale in January as part of a strategic review to increase its focus on US healthcare. 

One of the chemist’s key attractions is its healthcare services, which played a key part in the rollout of Covid tests and vaccines. 

Boots has administered more than 4.7m tests and 1.6m vaccines since the coronavirus pandemic struck.

It is also behind 500 beauty brands including the No7 skincare brand, which has become the most widely sold in the UK since it launched in 1935.




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