Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mega deal pitched 'in minivan on a country road'

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TORONTO -- A $12.4-billion bid by Loblaw Companies Ltd. to buy pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. was not pitched in a boardroom on Bay Street, but instead, during a countryside meeting in a minivan northwest of Toronto.

The heads of the companies say the friendly deal was brokered because it was a good match, but more importantly, the timing was right.

"I met with (Shopper's chair) Holger (Kluge) in a minivan on a country road on Thursday morning at 8 o'clock," Loblaw executive chairman Galen Weston said Monday. "That's when I proposed to him the transaction."

But the two men said they've been in discussions over a potential sale for years.

"We'd been dating for some time," Kluge said.

Weston said he has been thinking about expanding his grocery empire into the health and wellness category for the past decade.

Kluge said Loblaw was not the only contender for the drugstore chain, which has received solicited and unsolicited offers over the past few years.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 16, 2013 B6

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