Walgreens Boots Alliance has sold its remaining stake in home infusion services provider Option Care Health for proceeds of about $330 million.
“The company intends to use the proceeds primarily for debt pay down, continued support of WBA’s strategic priorities and transformation to a consumer-centric healthcare company,” Walgreens said in a statement Thursday night. “The transaction is another decisive action WBA is taking to unlock value and further simplify the company’s portfolio.”
To be sure, Walgreens has been reducing its stake in other businesses in the last two years under chief executive Roz Brewer to raise money for other priorities such as its multi-billion dollar bet on doctor-staffed primary care clinics attached to drugstores.
Less than a month ago, Walgreens sold shares of AmerisourceBergen, a large drug distributor, for proceeds of $694 million. That sale of AmerisourceBergen stock followed another sale of the distributor’s stock last December for proceeds of $1 billion, reducing its stake in the company to less than 20%.
Meanwhile, Walgreens has been spending billions of dollars to expand its primary care business and has used a mix of equity and debt to do so. Most notably, Walgreens has invested in VillageMD, which last year announced plans to buy Summit Health for $8.9 billion to expand doctor-staffed clinics across the country. The transaction includes investments from Walgreens, which already owns about half of VillageMD, and Cigna’s health services business Evernorth.
The combination comes as Walgreens and rivals CVS Health, Walmart and Amazon push deeper into providing medical care in drugstores and other retail settings.
Amazon earlier this year closed on its $3.9 billion acquisition of One Medical, which operates more than 220 primary care offices in more than 28 U.S. markets. Meanwhile, CVS Health, which owns the health insurer Aetna, has been doing some wheeling and dealing of its own. CVS bought the home care company Signify Health for $8 billion and last month completed its acquistion of Oak Street Health for $10.6 billion in cash, adding a large network of doctor-staffed clinics primarily used by seniors.
Other health insurers, like UnitedHealth Group, have long been gobbling up doctor practices and other primary care operations including urgent care and surgery centers via its Optum health services business. And Walmart has opened several new doctor-staffed “Walmart Health” centers in several states and is doubling the number of such facilities by the end of next year to around 80.
Option Care Health, which was known as Walgreens Infusion Services until 2015, is lately trying to buy the home health and hospice firm Amedisys for more than $3 billion. But that deal got some competition earlier this week when an unsolicited all-cash buyout offer for Amedisys emerged from UnitedHealth’s Optum.
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