07/15/2013 01:58 EDT | Updated 09/14/2013 05:12 EDT

Loblaw-Shoppers Deal Was Pitched In A Minivan


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 two 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.

"The companies have known each other for a long time but you know, in fact this happened very, very quickly," he said of the offer which was made June 11.

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

Yet ultimately, Loblaw was the best fit and the deal that made the most financial sense.

"In the end, when we got the approach that we did and you see in front of you, it was by far, superior to anything else that we have seen throughout our discussions over the last two years," he said.

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