Rite Aid, Albertsons $24B Deal to Fight Amazon Scrapped

Customers leave an Albertsons grocery store with their purchases in Burbank California

Customers leave an Albertsons grocery store with their purchases in Burbank California

When the deal was announced in February, the combination of Rite Aid and Albertson's was being called the creation of a pharmacy powerhouse. In September 2017, the two companies announced a scaled back version for almost 2,000 of Rite Aid's stores.

Rite Aid Chief Executive John Standley said the company heard the views of its shareholders and would operate as a standalone firm.

Rite Aid Corp. announced that it has mutually agreed with Albertsons Cos.to terminate their previously announced merger agreement.

Rite Aid also said its board will consider governance changes, although it did not elaborate. It "does not appear that Rite Aid shareholders would receive a fair ownership interest in the combined company", said Institutional Shareholder Services Inc.in a report in late July obtained by Bloomberg.

As a result, the special meeting of Rite Aid's stockholders, which was to be held on August 9, 2018, will not take place. The rest was going to be in the hands of Rite Aid investors, with the combined company worth an estimated $24 billion. The investment firm said in June that it would vote its roughly 47 million shares against the deal.

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In the weeks leading up to the deal, however, two prominent proxy advisers recommended that shareholders vote against it.

ISS, meanwhile, said it was concerned that the deal would introduce a new set of risks from the grocery business.

The deal was partially meant to increase foot traffic to Albertsons' in-store pharmacies (which would have been rebranded to Rite Aid) and to increase the likelihood that customers heading to pick up their medication would be tempted to pick up some groceries on their way out. The drugstore chain has struggled with high debt levels and tough competition, as narrowing drugstore networks have pushed customers away from its stores. "After the sell-off of stores to Walgreens, it lacks scale".

Walgreens wanted to buy all of Rite Aid in 2015, but federal regulators nixed that plan on antitrust grounds. Last September, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. announced a slimmer agreement to buy almost 2,000 Rite Aid locations and some distribution centers for about $4.38 billion.

Rite Aid's shares have fallen about 22% since Albertsons' offer was first announced in February, reflecting concerns that the grocery firm's bid undervalued the drugstore chain.

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