RIL-Apollo is the frontrunner in the contest for the Boots drug chain.

Walgreens Boots operates over 2,200 Boots pharmacies.
Boots pharma
MUMBAI: A consortium led by Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and buyout firm Apollo Global Management Inc. has emerged as the leading bidder for Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.'s Boots pharmacies operation in the United Kingdom, according to two individuals familiar with the situation.

The consortium has evaluated the assets in the $7-8 billion area, according to the individuals, without revealing the specific proposal. Walgreens, situated in a Chicago suburb, placed its Boots division up for sale in December, seeking a $8.8 billion value. The US pharmacy business also operates over 2,200 Boots pharmacies in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Thailand, and Indonesia.

If Walgreens approves Mukesh Ambani's deal, it will be India's most valued company's largest cross-border acquisition.

A possible acquisition of Boots would significantly increase RIL's influence in the healthcare industry. In 2020, the business paid 620 crore for a 60 percent share in Chennai-based online pharmacy startup Netmeds. According to one of the persons listed above, RIL is likely to be announced the winning bidder soon. According to the individual, who requested anonymity, Walgreens may keep a share in the company following the transaction.

"RIL-Apollo Global appears to be the likely winner of the binding bidding round." The deadline for shortlisting bidders was May 31, but things slipped a little behind schedule. "The successful bidder's name will be released shortly," the individual stated.
A Walgreens Boots spokesman declined to comment. Apollo Global's representative did not reply to requests for comment.

"As a principle, we do not comment on media speculation and hearsay," a RIL representative stated. Our organisation constantly analyses new prospects."

According to news reports, a consortium led by British billionaire brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, co-founders of Euro Garages (the owner of a chain of petrol filling stations) and majority shareholders in supermarket group Asda (held through a consortium with TDR Capital), withdrew from the race after failing to agree on a valuation.

RIL has been on an acquisition frenzy over the last year as part of a goal to expand its position across sectors and markets. It barely lost a controlling share in T-Mobile Netherlands BV, the country's largest cellular provider, to a consortium of private equity investors Apax Partners LLC and Warburg Pincus LLC last year. Deutsche Telekom AG was purchased by the buyout companies for €5.1 billion ($6 billion).

RIL has also completed a number of purchases in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. These include the acquisition of large shares in Karexpert and C-Square. RIL is merging its physical network with its digital arm Jio Platforms to provide a suite of services that may be monetized through transaction-based services, distribution, and subscriptions.