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Reports: Rite Aid shares briefly halt over FTC concerns

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Trading of Rite Aid shares was briefly halted on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday when the stock price sank following published reports that the Federal Trade Commission is iffy about antitrust concessions for approval of the Walgreens-Rite Aid merger.

walgreens-rite-aid-signs_brickRite Aid shares suspended trading after dropping 18% but resumed minutes later, TheStreet.com reported. The drug chain’s shares opened at $8.60 on Friday and had fallen as low as $6.95.

As of noon trading on Friday, Rite Aid shares were down $1 to $7.60. Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), which is acquiring Rite Aid in a $17 billion deal, also were down on Friday, falling nearly $2 to $81.50 as of noon trading. WBA shares had dropped as low as $81.01 after opening at $84.11.

Triggering the stock hiccup were reports that the FTC remains unsatisfied with WBA’s proposal to divest stores, according to anonymous sources cited by Bloomberg.

Late last month, Fred’s Inc. had agreed to buy 865 Rite Aid stores in a $950 million deal expected by company executives and industry observers to pave the way for the completion of WBA’s acquisition of Rite Aid.

The end date for the Walgreens-Rite Aid merger agreement is next Friday. In late October, WBA and Rite Aid extended the end date for the deal to Jan. 27, 2017, from Oct. 27, 2016, and said they expect the transaction to close in early calendar-year 2017.

The companies originally said they expected to wrap up the merger by the end of calendar 2016. WBA announced the agreement to acquire Rite Aid for $9 per share in cash, plus assume debt, on Oct. 27, 2015.


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