Alliance Boots CEO Hornby Resigns Amid Overseas Growth Push

Alliance Boots Holdings Ltd., owner of the largest U.K. drugstore chain, said Chief Executive Officer Andy Hornby resigned after less than two years at the company, which is seeking to expand outside its home market.

Hornby, who was CEO of HBOS Plc before the bank was bailed out by the U.K. government and sold to Lloyds Banking Group Plc in 2008, will leave immediately, the Nottingham, England-based company said today on its website. The 44-year-old executive, who started in July 2009, said he wants “a few months’ break.”

Alliance Boots, which was jointly acquired by Chairman Stefano Pessina and KKR & Co. in 2007, has expanded overseas by buying majority stakes in Turkish drug wholesaler Hedef Alliance Holding A.S. and Germany’s Andreae-Noris Zahn AG, and forging partnerships with Carrefour SA and Procter & Gamble Co. The 11.1 billion pounds ($17.8 billion) paid by Pessina and KKR was the biggest private-equity deal in European history at the time.

“Pharmaceutical wholesaling and retailing isn’t everybody’s cup of tea,” said Nick Bubb, an analyst at Arden Partners. “Pessina is the real power behind the throne there.”

Alliance Boots said it will start a search for a successor to Hornby, who headed the George clothing brand at Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Asda chain before joining HBOS in 1999. Internal and external candidates will be considered.

“After an intense last five years as CEO of two major companies I have decided to take a few months’ break, and to stand down from my post,” Hornby said in the statement.

Alliance Boots, whose pharmacy and wholesale drug business reported sales of 22.5 billion pounds last year, said it expects to report “another year of strong trading profit growth” for the year ending March 31.

Last year, Hornby received a base salary of 850,000 pounds. He got a bonus of 805,000 pounds for the first nine months of the fiscal year.

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