Walgreens Boots says it will probably have to unload more stores than expected to ease antitrust concerns over its pending acquisition of Rite Aid, a deal that would make the nation's largest drugstore chain even larger.
While it still expects to complete the acquisition this year, Walgreens Boots said today that it will probably have to divest more than 500 stores but “fewer than 1,000” locations. The company previously said it expected it would have to divest 500 or fewer stores.
Walgreens Boots says it remains "actively engaged" with the Federal Trade Commission as it reviews the deal.
Federal regulators appear increasingly hesitant to approve major acquisitions after a record-setting pace last year in megadeals. They've already sued to block two multi-billion dollar health insurance tie-ups this year.
Walgreens still expects the deal to close before the end of 2016.
In purchasing Rite Aid, Deerfield-based Walgreens would acquire 4,570 stores in 31 states. It currently has more than 8,200 U.S. stores of its own, putting the potential combined store count near 13,000. By comparison, archrival CVS, of Woonsocket, R.I., has about 7,800 stores.