Walgreens Closes Deal, Begins New Era In Global Pharmacy

wallgreenWalgreens (WAG) closed its deal with Alliance Boots this morning, launching under a new holding company with its eyes on global expansion, a first for the retail pharmacy industry.

As part of the deal, the new Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA) begins today trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “WBA.” Earlier this week, Walgreens shareholders approved acquiring the remaining 55 percent of European drugstore chain Alliance Boots that the U.S. pharmacy doesn’t already own. It completes a process  that began in 2012.

Walgreens, which began with its first corner drugstore in Chicago in 1901, now has a “retail pharmacy network spanning the United States and Europe as well as key markets in Latin America and Asia.”

Combined, Walgreens Boots Alliance has more than 12,800 stores in more than 25 countries with more than 370,000 employees. Walgreens has been the largest U.S. pharmacy chain, ahead of CVS Health (CVS). The companies also distribute products from more than 340 pharmaceutical distribution centers that the companies said serve more than 180,000 pharmacies and other health care entities.

“Becoming global gives us the ability to generate significant and sustainable benefits for local markets and all stakeholders, from consumers and patients, to pharmacists, suppliers, business partners and, of course, our employees,” said Stefano Pessina, 73, who become acting CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance following the retirement of Walgreen Co. CEO Greg Wasson, 56.

A search for Wasson’s successor is expected to begin soon now that the deal has closed.

The outgoing Wasson said the deal combines “two iconic brands” with “complementary geographic footprints” and companies that have provided health care and community pharmacy services “each dating back more than 100 years.”