For almost two years now, Walgreens and Rite Aid have been trying to make some kind of committed relationship work, but they remain star-crossed corporations. Walgreens wanted to buy the smaller drugstore chain, then switched to acquiring a few thousand of Rite Aid’s stores when it appeared that Federal Trade Commission approval wasn’t going to happen. Now “people with knowledge of the matter” say that a new version of the deal may finally meet FTC approval.
This is the fourth version of a deal between the two companies, after two versions of a merger and one store purchase deal fell through.
According to insiders who spoke with Bloomberg News, the deal would still include Walgreens purchasing sightly fewer Rite Aid stores. The sale would still involve more than 2,000 outlets, making Walgreens the country’s largest drugstore chain.
If Walgreens proposes a new version this week, that would give the FTC 30 days to make a decision on the transaction.
A full merger would have created the country’s largest drugstore chain, even after the companies sold off a few thousand stores to regional chain Fred’s to meet the FTC’s competition requirements.
If the FTC approves this sale, Walgreens would become the largest national drugstore chain, followed by CVS, with Rite Aid at a distant third with only around 2,200 stores.