The stock sale, which comes less than a month after former Express Scripts executive Tim Wentworth became chief executive of Walgreens, reduces the drugstore chain’s stake in Cencora to 15 percent, although Walgreens remains the retailer’s largest shareholder medicines.
“The transaction is another decisive action to further simplify the company’s portfolio while improving cash management.” Walgreens said Friday in a statement.
Walgreens began shedding its stake in the distributor and other businesses in the past two years under former CEO Roz Brewer to raise money for other priorities, such as a multibillion-dollar bet on medically-staffed primary care clinics connected to pharmacies .
In May, Walgreens sold shares of Cencora, then known as AmerisourceBergen, for $694 million in proceeds. That transaction followed another sale of the distributor’s stock last December for $1 billion in proceeds, reducing his stake in the company to less than 20 percent.
The divestment strategy continues under Wentworth even as he builds his new executive team. Walgreens earlier this month It named Neal Sample as its new Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, even as the company this week continued to cut staff at corporate headquarters, eliminating more than 260 corporate jobs.
Sample’s experience includes stints as chief information officer at Northwestern Mutual and Express Scripts, where he was COO and CIO when Wentworth was CEO of the pharmacy benefit manager. Wentworth and Sample led Express Scripts through its $54 billion acquisition by health insurance giant Cigna in 2018.
Walgreens has spent 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 medically-staffed clinics across the country. That transaction included investments from Walgreens, which already owns about half of VillageMD, and Cigna’s health services business, Evernorth.
Walgreens and rivals CVS Health, Walmart and Amazon are pushing deeper into providing medical care in pharmacies and other retail spaces.