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Walgreens: Rite Aid deal on track, fewer stores likely to be shed

A proposed purchase of Rite Aid Corp. is “progressing as planned,” Walgreens Boots Alliance says, and the deal may require closing fewer stores than initially expected.

The Illinois-based drugstore chain, America’s largest, said in its third quarter results, released Wednesday, that its deal to buy Cumberland County-based Rite Aid “remains on track to be completed in the second half of this year.”

Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina, in an investors conference call added that he expected the combined company would only have to divest itself of about 500 stores to satisfy regulators’ antitrust concerns, Forbes reported.

Shortly after the $17.2 billion proposal was announced in October, Walgreens told investors that it was willing to shed as many as 1,000 stores if required by regulators.

The deal remains under Federal Trade Commission review.

So far, the possible make-up of a merged company has not been fleshed out for public consumption, although Walgreens has said Rite Aid initially will continue to operate under its own name for an unspecified period of time.

What might that mean for Pennsylvania? With no answers yet it’s hard to say, especially regarding Rite Aid’s corporate presence, centered in East Pennsboro Township.

As far as stores, what can be said is that while there are areas of significant overlap in other parts of the country, Rite Aid — the nation’s no. 3 chain — clearly dominates central Pennsylvania.

Walgreens has about 8,200 stores nationwide, while Rite Aid has about 4,600 stores across the country, with more than 70 in the midstate, where there are only a handful of Walgreens stores.

In related news, Walgreens announced that the company on June 1 completed a public offering of $6 billion aggregate principal amount of unsecured, unsubordinated notes, intending to apply the net proceeds toward costs connected with the deal, including retirement of some Rite Aid debt.

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at [email protected].

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