"a buyer has finally been found"
It has been reported that Mukesh Ambani has teamed up with an American private equity firm to make a £5 billion bid for Boots.
The billionaire’s company Reliance Industries has been working with Apollo Global Management on a potential move for Boots since April 2022.
It is believed that both have now placed a formal takeover approach.
Sources previously confirmed that Mr Ambani was interested in buying boots, having considered, then dropped a bid for Chelsea FC.
Mr Ambani was keen to build his empire in the UK and was attracted by its transparent regulations.
The source told Business Live he had looked into buying Chelsea after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the Government over what it said were his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to Bloomberg, buying Boots would fit in with Reliance’s plans to expand outside Asia.
The process comes after Boots owner Walgreen Boots Alliance (WBA) announced a review of the UK business and potential sale.
Initial reports suggested it might want as much as £6 billion for Boots, which has more than 2,200 stores across the UK.
The US retail giant could keep a minority stake as part of a deal.
Apollo is attempting to buy a major UK retailer within two years of failed efforts to buy Morrisons and Asda during their separate sales processes.
Danni Hewson, a financial analyst at online stockbroker AJ Bell, said:
“Shares in the US owner of Boots pharmacy have fallen slightly in reaction to the news a buyer has finally been found for the UK high street chain.
“Speculation has been rife about where the pharmacy business might end up since Walgreens put it up for sale earlier this year and at one point it looked like it might find its way back into public hands.
“But private equity has swooped in with a binding bid from Reliance Industries and Apollo Global Management.
“The latter lost out to the Issa brothers during the race to snap up supermarket chain Asda and market watchers are wondering if the Issas will counter with a rival bid.
“The business of health took on even greater importance during the pandemic.”
“At a time when the NHS is struggling to play catch up, complimentary services are more in demand than ever and the Boots brand and location on our high streets carries weight.
“There are huge opportunities for a new owner to revolutionise the business, revitalise the ageing store portfolio and create wellness hubs or mix up the retail offer – a coffee whilst you wait to get your eyes checked, a healthy snack as you nip in for your repeat prescription.”