Boots for sale

Stephen Beard Apr 20, 2007
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Boots for sale

Stephen Beard Apr 20, 2007
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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The board of Britain’s biggest pharmacy chain, Boots, has agreed to a multi-billion dollar takeover bid from an America private firm. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has offered more than $20 billion dollars for the group. From London, Stephen Beard reports.


STEPHEN BEARD: If Boots’ shareholders agree to the deal, it will be easily the biggest private equity buyout in European history.

It’ll be the first time this has happened to one of the UK’s top 100 publicly-listed companies.

Private equity is not getting good press in Britain. There’s a growing perception that private equity deals are all about asset stripping.

But Justin Urquart-Stewart of Seven Investment says this isn’t the case with Boots. He says Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and its allies are intent on developing the business. Taking it private will protect it from break-up.

JUSTIN URQUART-STEWART: If the company had stayed public and its share price weakened then it could be open for someone to come in buy it and potentially break it up, and then you would see some of the darker side of private equity.

This morning a rival private equity group raised its bid for Boots, but analysts believe unless a full-scale bidding war develops and the price goes through the roof, KKR will win the day.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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