Walgreens-Rite Aid merger approval at hand?

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Chain drug industry watchers have kept hearing and reading the scuttlebutt about the closing of the Walgreens-Rite Aid merger deal. But a report late Friday afternoon suggested that approval of the $17.2 billion transaction may be imminent.

Investor website Seeking Alpha reported that Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) is slated to have a package of store divestitures get the green light from the Federal Trade Commission by the end of the year.

The report also said Fred’s is poised to buy a chunk of the stores, as are Kroger and some private-equity firms. In its third-quarter earnings call Thursday, which was delayed a week, Fred’s cited a “pending transaction” for not taking questions from analysts.

WBA had said in October that it and Rite Aid were extending the agreement’s end date to Jan. 27 and expect to complete the transaction in early 2017.

Stay tuned.


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