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Walgreens Boots Alliance makes formal debut

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NEW YORK — Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.’s (WBA’s) top executives marked the close of a busy first week as a new company by ringing the opening bell January 9 at the Nasdaq Stock Market, where the company now trades under the “WBA” ticker symbol.

Moments later, in an interview with financial network CNBC, executive vice chairman and acting chief executive officer Stefano Pessina expressed his resolute optimism for the prospects of the new venture.

“We are full of hope for the future,” Pessina told CNBC morning show “Squawk on the Street.”

For Pessina and other top WBA executives, the launch of the new enterprise has been a whirlwind endeavor. In addition to opening the stock exchange at the Nasdaq MarketSite at New York City’s Times Square, the company accomplished several other important activities in the first week of January, including the rollout of a new corporate identity supported with a new logo, new vision and purpose statements, and a new corporate website at the URL walgreensbootsalliance.com.

Still on the to-do list, however, is identifying a successor to former Walgreen Co. president and chief executive officer Greg Wasson, who in December announced his decision to retire “shortly after” the completion of the Walgreens and Boots Alliance merger. Wasson, who did participate in the opening bell ceremony at the Nasdaq, officially retired later that day, according to the company.

Shareholders of the former Walgreen Co. overwhelmingly approved the deal with Alliance Boots — and creation of the new holding company corporate structure ­— at a special meeting held here on December 29, and the companies reported that the deal officially closed December 31.

When asked about the ongoing CEO search, WBA executive chairman Jim Skinner told CNBC the company is “in the middle of the process now,” and it will be a “couple months before we can identify the candidate.” In the meantime, he added, “Stefano is eminently qualified to be the acting CEO.”

Pessina noted in the CNBC interview that he and Wasson had worked “together for more than two years to put the companies together,” and that he expected a smooth transition. But, he noted that he will work to “accelerate as much as possible” the synergies the companies are seeking. “The [retail] environment is changing quite rapidly and we have to be up to the speed of the market,” he said.

With the CEO search under way, WBA moved ahead with developing a new mission statement and corporate identity. WBA said its corporate purpose is “to help people across the world lead healthier and happier lives,” and the updated mission is “to be the first choice for pharmacy, well-being and beauty, caring for people and communities around the world.”

The company also has a new globe-shape logo “that represents our ability to connect customers around the world to products and services that enhance their health and well-being,” Skinner said.

WBA, which calls itself the “first global pharmacy-led, health and well-being enterprise in the world,” employs over 370,000 people and has a presence in more than 25 countries. Including its “equity method investments,” WBA is the global leader in pharmacy-led, health and well-being retail with more than 12,800 stores in 11 countries, according to WBA.

The company also operates the largest global pharmaceutical wholesale and distribution network with 340-plus distribution centers delivering to 180,000 pharmacies, doctors, health centers and hospitals.


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