Canadian food and pharmaceutical retailer Metro has received approval from the Competition Bureau to acquire Jean Coutu Group for approximately $4.5bn.

The transaction, which is expected to close on 11 May this year, will form a new $16bn merged entity combining pharmaceutical retail stores of both the companies in the country.

Jean Coutu is a Canadian pharmacy retailer currently operating a network of 419 franchised stores in New Brunswick, Québec and Ontario under PJC Jean Coutu, PJC Santé, PJC Clinique and PJC Santé Beauté brands.

The retailer also owns a Québec-based subsidiary and manufacturer of generic drugs, Pro Doc.

“We are pleased that this important step has been taken towards creating a new retail leader in Quebec.”

Metro president and chief executive officer Eric La Flèche said: “We are pleased that this important step has been taken towards creating a new retail leader in Quebec.

“We are looking forward to welcoming the employees and pharmacist owners of the Jean Coutu Group to our team and together better serve our customers for all their food, pharmacy and health and beauty needs.”

The food and pharmacy retailer will operate Jean Coutu Group as a wholly owned subsidiary after the completion of the transaction.

Under the terms of the agreement with the Competition Bureau, Metro will divest all of its rights in 10 pharmacies in Amos, Berthierville, Baie Saint-Paul, Coaticook, Carleton-Sur-Mer, Disraeli, and La Baie et La Sarre areas.

The company will not close any pharmacy during the transaction and will continue to offer its products in all the stores.

Based in Québec and Ontario, Metro operates more than 600 food stores and 250 drugstores across Canada.

Food stores are operated under Food Basics, Metro, Super C and Metro Plus brands, while the drugstores are operated under Brunet, Drug Basics and Metro Pharmacy brands.