India’s richest man makes £5bn bid for Boots

India’s richest man has joined forces with US private equity giant Apollo in a £5billion bid for Boots.

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries is part of a consortium that has reportedly made a firm offer for the drugstore chain.

The move brings investors to favorites to take over the international arm of Walgreens, the US retail giant that took control of £9 billion Boots in 2014, according to Bloomberg.

A rival consortium of Asda owners, the Issa brothers and TDR Capital is said to be cold on a deal.

Walgreens hired bankers from Goldman Sachs late last year to find a buyer. It has imposed a £7bn price tag on the UK chain after selling its wholesale arm in 2021.

The nearly 180-year-old chain, which has 2,000 stores and around 50,000 employees, has garnered significant interest from buyout funds, with CVC and Bain among early candidates for the deal.

Mr Ambani, who has a net worth of $94 billion (£70 billion), has diversified Reliance beyond owning the world’s largest crude oil refiner to challenge Amazon and Walmart in India’s burgeoning online retail market.

Nicknamed ‘Muku’, the Reliance chair already owns English country club Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire and 260-year-old toy retailer Hamleys, which it acquired through Reliance Retail for £68million in 2019.

However, the billionaire was trumped in September when private equity consortium Warburg Pincus and Apax Partners awarded the bid for Dutch arm of wireless operator T-Mobile.

Boots, run in the UK by former Currys boss Seb James, reported that retail sales were up 22 percent at the end of March. He said the retailer has a “rejuvenated store portfolio and an increasingly strong online presence.” India’s richest man makes £5bn bid for Boots

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