LloydsPharmacy parent company sells UK businesses to private equity firm

Following the sale of several other European businesses in July 2021, the McKesson Corporation is selling its UK businesses as part of its focus on investment outside Europe.
External image of a LloydsPharmacy store

McKesson, which owns LloydsPharmacy, has agreed to sell all of its UK businesses to pan-European asset management group Aurelius.

Announced on 1 November 2021, the transaction includes the sale of McKesson UK businesses LloydsPharmacy, LloydsDirect and AAH Pharmaceuticals, among others, and is expected to be finalised in 2022.

In a statement from the McKesson Corporation, based in Texas, United States, the company described the move as “another important step in advancing McKesson’s commitment to streamline the business and fully exit the European region”.

In July 2021, McKesson announced that it was selling its European businesses in France, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium and Slovenia to the Phoenix group.

As part of the company’s statement, Brian Tyler, chief executive officer of McKesson, said: “We are extremely proud of the role that our business has played to advance better healthcare in the UK, and especially the work during the pandemic to ensure that patients continue to have access to needed medicines, and to assist the NHS with the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

“As we explore strategic options to fully exit Europe, this transaction provides our UK operation with the best path forward to achieve its long-term growth potential, while allowing McKesson to focus future investments in strategic growth areas outside of Europe.”

Paul Day, director of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA), which represents pharmacists working for the multiple, said that pharmacists at LloydsPharmacy had known “for some time” that the business was for sale and he hoped that the announcement would start to bring more certainty for them about the future of the business.  

“Pharmacists employed by McKesson UK companies are an incredible asset to the new owners, and we encourage them to invest in pharmacy and realise the value in utilising their workforce to its full potential as the most available part of the NHS, embedded in the heart of the community,” he said.

“The nature of acquisitions is that the purchasers believe they can get extra value from the business and the fear of acquisitions, especially by private equity, is that this is attempted through cuts and closures. 

“However, an alternative strategy is to invest and improve, and the PDA hope to work positively with LloydsPharmacy management to improve the operations of LloydsPharmacy, so that well-resourced, well-managed branches can bring Aurelius the profits they need while simultaneously improving the experience of pharmacists and patients.”

The PDA Union signed a voluntary recognition agreement with LloydsPharmacy in Februrary 2021, which allowed the union to negotiate on employment matters on behalf of pharmacists employed by the multiple.

Aurelius, a private equity firm, has offices in Munich, London, Stockholm, Madrid, Amsterdam, Milan and Luxembourg.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2021, Vol 307, No 7955;307(7955)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.113517

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