McKesson Corp. is close to an agreement to buy a majority stake in German drug wholesaler Celesio AG to bundle its purchasing and gain global influence, said people with knowledge of the discussions.
McKesson may pay about 22 euros a share for the 50.01 percent stake held by Franz Haniel & Cie GmbH, a family-owned investment company, according to two of those people. That would value the stake at about 1.9 billion euros ($2.6 billion), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Haniel and McKesson are trying to reach agreement in time to announce it tomorrow with McKesson’s quarterly earnings, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. San Francisco-based McKesson, the largest U.S. pharmaceutical distributor, then would be required under German law to make an offer to buy the remaining Celesio shares, the people said.
McKesson plans to announce earnings tomorrow before the U.S. stock market opens. Celesio, based in Stuttgart, has a market value of about 3.5 billion euros ($4.8 billion).
Since Walgreen Co.’s 2012 deal to buy 45 percent of Alliance Boots, the owner of the largest U.K. pharmacy chain, drug distributors have been examining their positions in Europe and looking at ways to cut costs. Celesio has 132 wholesale branches that supply 65,000 pharmacies and hospitals. The company operates in 14 countries, mostly in Europe.
Rainer Berghausen, a spokesman for Celesio, declined to comment on whether Haniel was nearing a sale of its stake. A spokesman for Duisburg, Germany-based Haniel didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. A message left with McKesson outside of normal business hours wasn’t immediately returned.
Celesio rose 6.1 percent to 21.73 euros in Frankfurt, the highest since May 2010. The purchase price of about 22 euros a share is 7.5 percent above Celesio’s closing price yesterday, though the stock has soared 70 percent this year, including reinvested dividends, amid speculation the company would be sold. McKesson rose less than 1 percent to $143.05 at the close in New York.
Haniel also has stakes in companies including Metro AG and Takkt AG. The company hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. this year to advise on the sale of a full or partial stake in Celesio or a partnership with another company, two people familiar with the matter said.