Walgreen, the largest chain of chemist stores in the U.S., is embarking on a roadshow to try to attract UK investors with an eye to a listing on the London Stock Exchange next year.
The company is keen to establish a dual listing in the UK and the U.S., following its purchase of a 45 percent stake in British High Street stalwart Alliance Boots last year.
Sources say the company had initially hoped to list its shares this year, but decided to wait and embark on a charm offensive to attract more shareholders first. Playing host to Walgreen, which has a market value of $39 billion (pounds sterling 24bn) would be a major coup for the LSE, as it is a well-known brand name in the U.S., where standards of governance and accounting are among the strictest in the world.
A number of overseas companies that have sought a City listing in recent years have been from former Soviet states and their corporate governance has come under question. Walgreen's purchase of the stake in Boots for pounds sterling 4.2bn last summer created a health and beauty giant with more than 11,000 stores.
It plans to buy the remaining 55pc of the old Boots the Chemist for an additional pounds sterling 6bn within the next two and a half years.
The pair are currently running a joint venture, based in Berne, Switzerland.
A Walgreen listing would mean a return to the stock market for Boots, which left the public share markets in 2007 when it was bought in a controversial and debt-laden pounds sterling 12.2bn deal by Italian billionaire Stefano Pessina backed by private equity firm KKR.
The Boots merger is part of a strategy by Walgreen to expand internationally.
Monaco-based Pessina had coveted a tie with a US company for some time, and is keen that the link-up will pave the way for deals in China and Latin America.
Walgreen, which took on Boots' debt -- which stood at pounds sterling 7bn last spring -- has seen its shares rise 25 percent in the past 12 months on the US markets.
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