Boots capitalises on distress

KKR-backed Alliance Boots has bought back £400m in debt. The retailer that was taken over in the largest European buyout of all time bought the debt back at nearly half of the trading value.

Finance director George Fairweather said Alliance Boots had bought £191m of debt in the year to March 31, amounting to financial gain of £106m. Since the year-end, when Alliance Boots had net debt of £9bn, it had bought another £227m of debt for £142m of cash.

The buybacks have been funded by Alliance Boots’ holding company, owned by Stefano Pessina, the executive chairman and KKR, including £60m from the issue of new shares.

In less positive news, Alliance Boots is cutting 1,500 jobs in its pharmaceutical wholesale division. Approximately 200 jobs will be axed in the UK.