According to Ornella Barra, the chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), an initial public offering (IPO) is still being considered for health and beauty retailer Boots if takeover bids fail to meet the desired price. Barra initially preferred the idea of floating the chain as an independent company, but private equity interest led to a change in plans. However, an IPO could be revisited if the private equity bidders fail to meet expectations. Barra mentioned the positive experience of private equity ownership during KKR’s ownership of Boots from 2007 to 2014.

In the past few weeks, WBA has been in discussions with several private equity firms, highlighting a strong interest from potential buyers to acquire Boots. Currently, Apollo Global Management, an investment firm based in New York, is said to be in the lead position with a £6 billion takeover bid. Other contenders include Sycamore Partners, TDR Capital, and the Issa brothers, who are the owners of the UK supermarket chain Asda. Initially, a consortium of CVC Capital and Bain Capital was considered but dropped out due to price expectations.

If the sale of Boots goes through, it will result in the breakup of WBA, which was formed in 2014 when Walgreens acquired the remaining 55% stake in Alliance Boots. The bidding process for Boots is expected to begin early next month.

For more information on this topic, please check out these useful links:
Financial Times – Boots IPO possibility
BBC News – Boots potential takeover bids