Celesio Said to Have Held Talks With CVS on Cooperation

Celesio AG, a pharmaceutical retailer, and CVS Caremark Corp. have held talks on a possible collaboration, including purchasing pacts, according to people familiar with the situation.

It’s too early to say what the outcome of the talks may be and which direction they make take, according to one person.

Manager Magazin reported earlier today that CVS Caremark is prepared to buy Franz Haniel & Cie GmbH’s 50.01 percent stake in Stuttgart, Germany-based Celesio. Markus Pinger, Celesio’s chief executive officer, has been in talks with Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based CVS for some time, the magazine reported, citing unidentified people close to the industry.

CVS would be willing to pay as much as 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) for the Haniel stake, the report said.

“There have been talks, but not about a sale,” Haniel spokesman Dietmar Bochert said in a telephone interview today.

Celesio spokesman Rainer Berghausen said in a telephone interview that only Haniel can decide on the sale of the stake. Carolyn Castel, a spokeswoman for CVS, declined to comment.

Pinger met Haniel Chief Executive Officer Stephan Gemkow on June 12 to talk about the modalities of a possible deal, the magazine said.

Celesio shares rose 11 percent to 17.89 euros in Frankfurt today, the highest price in more than two years, giving the company a market value of about 3 billion euros. It was the biggest gain since at least 1996.

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