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Walgreens explores a take-private deal

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., led by Chief Executive Officer Stefano Pessina, has been reviewing a potential deal to take the company private in what could become the largest leveraged buyout in history, people familiar with the matter said.

Walgreens Boots is the largest retail pharmacy in the U.S. and Europe, with more than 18,750 stores in 11 countries, according to its recent annual report.

The company has recently held informal talks with private equity firms, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Pessina is Walgreens Boots' largest shareholder with a stake of about 16%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens Boots has a market value of about $57 billion. At that size, a take-private of the company would top the largest leveraged buyout in history.

Some of the buyout firms have so far shown reluctance to participate in a transaction, the people said.

-- Bloomberg News

McDonald's targets higher sales growth

McDonald's Corp. is targeting comparable sales growth of 4% in the U.S. next year, according to a video distributed to the company's franchisees and viewed Tuesday by Bloomberg News. That would beat analysts' average growth projection of 3.4%.

"While we're pretty happy right now, we're not satisfied. That's the best time for us to go after guest counts," Chris Kempczinski, who took over as chief executive officer from Steve Easterbrook this week, said in the video. "As the old adage says the best time to fix a leaky roof is when it's sunny outside."

The burger chain's board voted Friday to fire Easterbrook, 52, after investigating reports of a consensual relationship with an employee, which violated company policy, according to a statement Sunday. Kempczinski, who had run U.S. operations, was named to take over.

On Monday, Easterbrook resigned from Walmart Inc.'s board of directors, according to an SEC filing. "Mr. Easterbrook's decision to resign was not due to any disagreement with [Walmart] on any matter relating to its operations, policies or practices," Walmart's filing said.

-- Bloomberg News

Index closes 3.91 up amid flat trading day

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Tuesday at 464.76, up 3.91.

"U.S. stocks finished flat on Tuesday, due in part to an information overload that includes the U.S.-China trade talks, corporate earnings season" and major stock market indexes at record highs, said Chris Harkins, managing director at Raymond James & Associates in Little Rock.

The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.

Business on 11/06/2019

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