Walgreens Unit Boots Transfers $6 Billion Pension Plan, Paving the Way for Future Sale

(Bloomberg) — Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.’s international unit Boots is transferring its $6 billion (£4.8 billion) pension plan to a financial services company, a deal that could pave the way for a sale of the pharmacy chain.

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The buy-in deal with UK-based Legal & General insures all 53,000 members in the Boots Pension Scheme, the company said in a release Friday.

In recent years, Walgreens distanced itself from its retail roots to focus on its health care offerings. In 2021 the company tried to sell Boots, which mostly operates retail pharmacies in the UK. It hoped to bring in some $6 billion from the sale, with plans to reinvest that money in health care. But last year they were forced to abandon the plans when no good offers came through.

“The Boots pension was one of the primary hurdles in prior negotiations to getting a deal done,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Jonathan Palmer said in an email. “Now, a buyer doesn’t have to worry about their potential exposure to the pension, which should provide additional clarity around Boots’ financial trajectory and thus make a sale more likely.”

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