EconomyFirstFT: Apollo and India’s second-richest man plan joint bid...

FirstFT: Apollo and India’s second-richest man plan joint bid for Boots


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India’s second-richest man Mukesh Ambani and US buyout firm Apollo Global Management are planning a joint bid for UK high street pharmacy chain Boots, according to people familiar with the matter.

The buyout group is working with Ambani’s Reliance Industries on a bid that if successful would see one of Britain’s best-known retailers expand its presence into India, south-east Asia and the Middle East.

Both groups would own equity stakes in Boots under the plan, one of the people said, although it is not clear whether their stakes would be the same size. Reliance is India’s largest listed company by market capitalisation and Ambani is the world’s eighth wealthiest man, according to Forbes.

Boots’ US parent Walgreens Boots Alliance put the business up for sale last December to focus on healthcare in its domestic market. It has set a deadline of May 16 for bids, one of the people said. 

Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. Send your feedback to firstft@ft.com — Emily

The latest from the war in Ukraine

  • Energy market: European gas prices have risen by a fifth after Russia’s Gazprom suspended supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. Catch up with our explainer on Russia’s rationale for halting gas flows to the two nations.

  • Chinese business: Shenzhen-based drone maker DJI has suspended its business in Russia and Ukraine, making it one of the first big Chinese companies to publicly halt Russian operations after the invasion.

  • Food security: Disruption to Ukraine’s agriculture industry has shaken the
    “breadbasket” of Europe. Take a look at how with our immersive feature.

  • Opinion: The Marshall Plan is no longer niche history. Ukraine experts are eyeing 1948’s postwar reconstruction programme as they chart a road map beyond the conflict, writes Gillian Tett.

1. Truss warns China to ‘play by the rules’ Liz Truss, UK foreign secretary, has warned China to learn lessons from the west’s robust economic response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying Beijing will face consequences if it does not “play by the rules”.

2. Archegos’ Hwang arrested on US fraud charges Bill Hwang, founder of collapsed family office Archegos Capital Management, has been charged with racketeering, fraud and market manipulation. The indictment accused Hwang and former chief financial officer Patrick Halligan of using Archegos as an “instrument of market manipulation and fraud” with “far-reaching consequences”.

3. Facebook’s shares rally despite slowing revenue growth Facebook parent Meta posted its slowest revenue growth since going public, but its share price jumped as profits held up better than expected in the face of several headwinds.

4. Indian government slashes LIC IPO The Indian government has more than halved the amount it is seeking to raise from the initial public offering of state-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India to less than $3bn after testing investor appetite in jittery markets.

5. US probes Chinese chipmaker over Huawei ban The Biden administration is looking into claims that Yangtze Memory Technologies Co supplied Huawei with chips for a new smartphone, in a potential violation of US export controls. State-owned YMTC is China’s largest memory chipmaker.

The day ahead

Bank of Japan meeting Policymakers will announce their interest rate decision and share an outlook report for economic activity and prices. Retail sales figures are also due.

Shareholder proposals At Moderna’s shareholder meeting on Thursday a resolution will be proposed asking its board to consider transferring Moderna’s intellectual property to the developing world. Votes on shunning fossil fuels are scheduled at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs — read more on the fossil fuel votes in our Moral Money newsletter.

Results Today is another big day for corporate earnings. Amazon.com, Apple, Barclays, Comcast, Eli Lilly and Co, Intel, McDonald’s, Merck & Co, Nokia, Sainsbury’s, Samsung Electronics, Swedbank, and Total are among those set to report.

Join us along with leading figures from Tesla, Volkswagen, Ford Pro, Nissan, Mercedes and Vauxhall at the Future of the Car event on May 9-12. Register here.

What else we’re reading

China policymakers clash over how to counter property slump Policy disagreements within the Chinese government highlight the difficult choices it faces as it tries to shore up growth in the world’s second-largest economy while also pursuing a tough zero-Covid strategy and taming heavily indebted property developers.

North Korea’s ‘nascent hacker underground’ A small number of tech-savvy citizens are trying to circumvent software and monitoring systems installed by the regime on their smartphones. But the North Korean hackers do so at the risk of hard labour, a lengthy spell in a political prison camp or even a death sentence.

Twitter employees fear the worst, hope for the best with Musk Twitter’s workforce is divided and apprehensive over their new owner. Some see the billionaire’s influence bringing about a new era of getting things done, away from the demands of Wall Street. Others worry about what might be undone, particularly when it comes to stemming hate speech or similar content.

The populist strongmen who are strangely keen on globalisation The entire idea of a “liberal international order” — a concept that sometimes seems to exist merely to have its death repeatedly prophesied — conflates political freedom with open trade. They do not always go together, writes Alan Beattie.

Berkshire Hathaway needs to be broken up When Warren Buffett leaves his post after more than 50 years at the helm, no one else will be able to run the company as successfully as he has. The behemoth conglomerate should be broken up, argues Francine McKenna, editor of The Dig.

Art

The Sydney Biennale showcases artists, oceans, forests and the night sky as curator José Roca casts the natural world as a participant in his low-carbon presentation. But his biennale has its critics too.

Exhibition at the Cutaway features ‘Flow’ (2021), a bamboo ‘river’ created by Sydney mixed-media group Cave Urban © Document Photography

Thank you for reading and remember you can add FirstFT to myFT. You can also elect to receive a FirstFT push notification every morning on the app. Send your recommendations and feedback to firstft@ft.com. Sign up here.



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