Billionaire Asda owners in talks to buy 2,200 Boots stores in £7billion deal

The wealthy Issa brothers, who own Asda as well as thousands of petrol stations and other retailers, are now in prime position to buy the Boots empire from a US firm

Zuber and Mohsin Issa own Asda and thousands of other UK outlets

The billionaire brothers that own Asda are among the main bidders for 2,200 Boots stores, according to reports.

The pharmacy chain employs more than 50,000 people, and a takeover could be worth as much as £ 7billion.

The frontrunners to buy the famous pharmacy chain include the Issa brothers, who own Asda, The Times reports.

Other interested bidders include investment firms TDR Capital, Apollo and Sycamore Partners.

The would-be buyers will be meeting with Boots bosses this week about any sale.

Boots is currently owned by US-based company Walgreens Boots Alliance, which unveiled a ‘strategic review’ of the pharmacy chain in January.

Previously interested bidders Bain Capital and CVC Capital Partners have already dropped out.

Buyers who are also understood to be interested in the past include investment firm Advent, Carlyle and KKR.

KKR owned Boots in the past, before selling it to Walgreens.

Boots is one of the UK’s biggest private sector employers. It was set up in 1849, by chemist John Boot.

It now has stores across the world, from Ireland to Indonesia.

Boots, Apollo, TDR and Sycamore have been approached for comment.

The Issa brothers would not comment.

Supermarket chain Asda, the UK’s third-biggest retailer, was bought in 2020 by Mohsin and Zuber Issa for £ 6.8billion.

The pair started off in business by founding Euro Garages with a single petrol station in Bury, Greater Manchester, before building it up to form a network of forecourts across the UK.

They formed EG Group with the backing of TDR Capital and expanded into Europe before the brothers and the private equity firm teamed up to buy Asda in 2020.

EG Group now owns 6,000 forecourts, as well as various fast food brands in Europe and the US – including dozens of branches of fried chicken restaurant KFC ..

Last October The Mirror reported EG Group would sell 27 petrol filling stations to Park Garage Group, as part of a deal made when buying Asda.

Also last October EG Group bought the UK’s second-biggest bakery, employing 1,600 staff.

The EG Group did not say how much it paid for CS Food Group Holdings, which is behind Cooplands bakery.

CS owns three bakeries that process ingredients and manufacture fresh food.

Cooplands food is sold to around 180 stores and cafes – which are mostly in the North East and Yorkshire.

In June the Issas agreed to sell some of the EG Group petrol stations due to competition concerns from the Competition and Markets Authority around their separate buyout of Asda.

In a previous interview, Zuber Issa said: “We grew (EG) from nothing.

“We’ve been on the pumps, we’ve been stocking the shelves, cleaning the toilets. You do everything.

“And once you do the foundation work, it’s no different wherever you go in the world. It’s a petrol station; you’re selling fuel, you’re selling coffee, you’re selling convenience. “

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