Shareholders owning nearly 5 percent of the company's shares lobbied
Walgreen's management to use its ownership stake in Alliance Boots <ABN.UL>
to change its legal domicile to Europe, the financial daily said.
The push was made at a private meeting between the shareholders and
company executives in Paris on Friday, the paper said in a report on
Such a move, known as tax inversion, could significantly reduce
Walgreen's taxable income in the United States, which has one of the
world's highest corporate tax rates.
The meeting was attended by Walgreen Chief Executive Greg Wasson,
Chief Financial Officer Wade Miquelon and Stefano Pessina, the
Italian billionaire chairman of Alliance Boots, Financial Times
The shareholder group, which includes Goldman Sachs Investment
Partners and hedge funds Jana Partners, Corvex and Och-Ziff,
requested the meeting with Walgreen, which has refused to consider
relocating, the paper said, citing people familiar with the matter.
"We regularly meet with our investors and always welcome their
input. Over the past year, we have made significant progress in our
strategic partnership with Alliance Boots as we move toward the
window for exercising the second step of our transaction," Walgreen
said in an email statement on Monday.
The drugstore retailer bought 45 percent of Alliance Boots, which
runs Europe's largest pharmacy chain, in 2012, with an option to buy
the rest in 2015.
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The financial daily said the shareholder group also wanted a greater
role for Alliance Boots' management team in running the merged
Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreen reported a lower-than-expected
profit for the quarter ended February 28 but said it expected a
bigger boost this year from its partnership with Alliance Boots.
Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Jana Partners, Corvex and Och-Ziff
were not immediately available for comment.
An Alliance Boots spokeswoman would not comment, saying it was a
Walgreen shares were up 2.7 percent at $66.01 in afternoon trading
on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Shailaja Sharma and Siddharth Cavale in Bangalore;
editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Savio D'Souza)
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