Unions warn of risk to jobs as bidding war to take over Boots the chemist hots up

Trade unions have expressed their concern about the multi-billion pound battle by private equity firms to take over the high-street chemist Alliance Boots.

Retail union Usdaw said it will closely scrutinise the KKR bid for Alliance Boots to make sure it addresses Usdaw members’ concerns about their long-term job security.

Boots’ board has backed a bid from KKR and Boots deputy chairman Stefano Pessina, who raised their offer to £10.90 a share – valuing the company at £10.6bn.

Usdaw represents thousands of workers in manufacturing, retail and logistics who work for Alliance Boots. Representatives will be seeking a meeting with the KKR bid team to examine its long-term plans for the high street company.

“If the KKR bid is accepted by Boots’ shareholders then it will be the biggest private equity deal in the UK and our job will be to remind them that our members are not concerned with who profits from the deal, but their long-term job security and their hard-earned pensions,” said Usdaw general secretary John Hannett.

The Transport and General Workers Union said the battle of the private equiteers for control of the company would inevitably create winners and losers.

GMB general secretary Paul Kenney has written to health secretary Patricia Hewitt on behalf of its members to highlight concerns that the company would be “loaded with debt” and be forced to close hundreds of stores if the deal goes ahead.

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