McKesson Corp. (MCK:US) is near an agreement to buy a majority stake in German drug wholesaler Celesio AG (CLS1) to bundle its purchasing and gain global influence, said two people with knowledge of the discussions.
Franz Haniel & Cie GmbH, the family-owned company that owns the 50.01 percent stake, and McKesson are trying to reach agreement in time to announce it with McKesson’s quarterly earnings tomorrow, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. San Francisco-based McKesson then would be required under German law to make an offer to buy the remaining Celesio shares, the people said.
The talks may take longer as the sides negotiate final details, the people said. McKesson, the largest U.S. pharmaceutical distributor, plans to announce earnings before the U.S. stock market opens tomorrow. Celesio, based in Stuttgart, has a market value of about 3.5 billion euros ($4.8 billion).
Since Walgreen Co. (WAG:US)’s 2012 deal to buy 45 percent of Alliance Boots, the owner of the largest U.K. pharmacy chain, drug distributors have been examining their positions in Europe and looking at ways to cut costs. Celesio has 132 wholesale branches that supply 65,000 pharmacies and hospitals with pharmaceuticals. The company operates in 14 countries, mostly in Europe.
Rainer Berghausen, a spokesman for Celesio, declined to comment on whether Haniel was nearing a sale of its stake. No one answered the phone at Haniel’s office in Duisburg, Germany. A message left with McKesson outside of normal business hours wasn’t immediately returned.
Celesio’s shares rose 1 percent to 20.67 euros at 12:55 p.m. in Frankfurt. The stock has climbed 58 percent this year amid speculation the company could be sold.
Haniel also has stakes in companies including Metro AG (MEO) and Takkt AG. (TTK) The company hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM:US) this year to advise on the sale of a full or partial stake in Celesio or a partnership with another company, two people familiar with the matter said.
For Related News and Information: Haniel Said to Hire JPMorgan to Explore Celesio Stake Sale
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