US-based Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) has signed an investment agreement with China National Accord Medicines to acquire a minority stake in its subsidiary Sinopharm Holding Guoda Drugstores (GuoDa), which operates and franchises retail pharmacies across China.
According to Walgreens, it acquired the stake through a capital increase by GuoDa worth RMB2.7bn ($416m).
The transaction is subject to regulatory review and approval, as well as other customary closing conditions.
WBA executive vice-chairman and CEO Stefano Pessina said: “We are very pleased to become a strategic investor in GuoDa. It is China’s leading pharmacy chain and we believe that we can positively contribute to its continued successful development with our global pharmacy expertise.
“We have had a presence in China for around ten years, initially through Alliance Boots, and we are excited about the opportunity to further invest in the country’s fast growing retail pharmacy sector.”
Launched in 2004, GuoDa operates more than 3,500 retail pharmacies in 70 cities and employs almost 20,000 people.
In September, WBA secured regulatory clearance for an amended and restated asset purchase agreement to buy 1,932 stores, three distribution centres and related inventory from Rite Aid for $4.3bn.
Located primarily in the north-east and the southern US, store purchases are expected to be completed by the end of next year.