Walgreen CEO to retire

Greg Wasson, CEO of Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreen, will retire after the close of the merger with European retailer Alliance Boots GmbH. Stefano Pessina, Walgreen's top shareholder and executive chairman of Bern-Switzerland Alliance Boots, will act as CEO while the company searches for a successor, according to a Bloomberg report.

The finalization of the deal will be determined after a Dec. 29 shareholder vote.

Mr. Wasson's retirement will follow the departures of several other Walgreen's executives this year, including CFO Wade Miquelon, who left the company in August, and pharmacy president Kermit Crawford, who is retiring after a revision that cut Walgreen's 2016 adjusted earnings forecast by more than $1 billion, according to Bloomberg.

The leadership changes seals a two-year push by Mr. Pessina for more control over the company. His presence at Walgreen began to rise after the company's decision to buy a 45 percent stake in Alliance Boots in 2012, an agreement that gave 7.6 percent of Walgreen stock to Mr. Pessina.

Walgreen announced in August that it would buy the rest of Alliance Boots for $15.3 billion, which will result in Mr. Pessina holding about 16 percent of the company.

Investors predicted earlier this year that Mr. Pessina's increasing influence over the drugstore company will transform its role from the neighborhood pharmacy to a more stylish retail vision of Boots Alliance, which controls nearly 40 percent of the high-margin market for beauty products in the U.K, according to Bloomberg.

Mr. Wasson served Walgreen for over three decades, beginning as a pharmacy intern. He may receive a retirement package valued at $35.1 million, including stock options, restricted shares, performance shares, health benefits and a bonus, according to the report.

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