In the 1970s, Stefano Pessina was bequeathed a struggling Italian pharmaceutical wholesale business by his father, but turned it around and starting buying other companies in other countries – and he hasn’t stopped since in his quest to be a global force.
After a string of acquisitions over the next 40 years in which Pessina ended up taking the reins of the newly combined company – he went from heading up Alliance Santé, then Alliance UniChem, then Alliance Boots after that company bought UK-based Boots Group PLC in 2006, and now he’s executive vice chairman and CEO of Walgreens Alliance Boots, several years after Alliance Boots merged with Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens Co.“By the time of Boots I had really started to cultivate the ambition of being global and to do that you must have a foot in the U.S.A” Pessina told the Financial Times. The new global enterprise combines Walgreens, the largest drugstore chain in the U.S.; Boots, the market leader in European retail pharmacy; and Alliance Healthcare, a leading international wholesaler and distributor. Together with its equity method investments, Walgreens Boots Alliance has a presence in more than 25 countries and employs more than 385,000 people. The company also owns a 23.9% stake in AmerisourceBergen in Chesterbrook, Penn, one of the largest global pharmaceutical sourcing and distribution services companies. Moreover, in September, Walgreens Boots Alliance announced it had secured regulatory clearance for an amended and restated asset purchase agreement to purchase 1,932 stores, three distribution centers and related inventory from Rite Aid Corporation for $4.375 billion in cash and other consideration. Continued growth will come from new products, partnerships, acquisitions and new markets, Pessina tells KPMG. “Walgreens Boots Alliance is a pharmacy, health and wellbeing business, and we want to bring [these] to as many people as possible,” he says.