Walgreen Shareholders OK Alliance Boots Acquisition

CHICAGO (Chicago Tribune/TNS) —

About 97 percent of Walgreen shareholders voted to approve the acquisition of European counterpart Alliance Boots, the company said Monday in New York.

Shareholders also agreed to reorganize the company into a holding company, which will be called Walgreens Boots Alliance. Common-stock shares will be listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol WBA.

Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreen bought a 45 percent stake in Switzerland-based Alliance Boots in 2012 for $6.7 billion. Shareholders approved buying the remaining 55 percent for $15.3 billion, allowing Walgreen to close the deal by Wednesday. Shareholders of record as of Nov. 17 participated in the vote.

CtW Investment Group Executive Director Dieter Waizenegger, who had urged shareholders to reject the acquisition, said he was disappointed in the vote and that the “real work starts now.” He said his company estimates that about half of acquisitions create value for the acquiring company.

“I think it would be good to have the company spell out how they’re going to get to the synergies that they’re expecting,” Waizenegger said.

And with Walgreen CEO Greg Wasson set to retire Wednesday, Waizenegger said, “everyone’s going to be looking at who’s going to be the new leadership of the company.”

“An important piece of data you look at is: How do you incentivize the leadership? In our view, a huge part of the compensation should be based on achieving a successful merger over the long term, getting that incentive package right. That will be the first litmus test for the new board,” he said.

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