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Alliance Unichem
Fate Merged with Boots Group
Successor Alliance Boots
Founded November 1997
Headquarters Spain, United Kingdom, Portugal, The Netherlands, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland
Key people Stefano Pessina (executive deputy chairman)
Industry Pharmaceutical, surgical, medical and healthcare
Subsidiaries Alliance Pharmacy

Alliance UniChem plc wholesales, distributes, and retails pharmaceutical, surgical, medical, and healthcare products throughout Europe. The Group serves pharmacies and other healthcare customers. Alliance UniChem's retail pharmacy division operates pharmacies in the United Kingdom, Portugal, The Netherlands, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland.

The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alliance Boots PLC, following the completion of Alliance UniChem's merger with Boots Group PLC on Monday 31 July, 2006. In the year to 31 December 2005 it had turnover of £9,171.2 million. Profit before tax was £261.0 million and net profit was £197.3 million. The market capitalisation of the company was approximately £3.6bn in June 2006.

It owned Alliance Pharmacy, which is a community chemist chain in the UK with just under 1,000 stores.



Alliance UniChem was a Europe-wide healthcare distribution group with approximately 33,000 employees. The Group was formed in 1997, through the merger of UniChem PLC and Alliance Santè SA. Its core businesses were pharmaceutical wholesale and retail pharmacy. With more than 1,200 pharmacies in the UK, Norway, The Netherlands and Italy, Alliance UniChem operated the third largest pharmacy network in Europe. It provides products, services and advice to millions of customers and patients.


In November 1997, the Alliance UniChem Group was formed through the merger of Alliance Santè SA and UniChem PLC. This truly pan-European organisation became one of the largest pharmaceutical distributors in Europe, with the aim of improving the delivery of healthcare products and services to pharmacists and patients across Europe. Key dates since the Group's formation:

1998: Majority stake in Grupo Safa (Pharmaceutical Wholesale - Spain)

1999: Partnership with Galenica AG (Pharmaceutical Wholesale - Switzerland) Creation of Alliance Farmacie (Retail Pharmacy - Italy) Merger of Alliance Santè and UniChem's Portuguese subsidiaries to form Alliance UniChem Farmacêutica S.A (Pharmaceutical Wholesale - Portugal) Purchase of Plus s.r.o. (Ltd.) and Pragopharm s.r.o. (Pharmaceutical Wholesale - Czech Republic) Creation of the European Pharmacists Forum, sponsored by Alliance UniChem

2000: Acquisition of Interpharm (Pharmaceutical Wholesale - The Netherlands) Purchase of De Vier Vijzels (Retail Pharmacy - The Netherlands)

2001: Strategic partnership with Hedef Holding (Pharmaceutical Wholesale - Turkey) Development of Alliance Apotekene (Retail Pharmacy - Norway)

2002: Acquisition of Holtung (Pharmaceutical Wholesale - Norway) Alliance UniChem Plc enters the FTSE100 index (London Stock Exchange)

2003: Alliance UniChem obtains a 40% indirect stake in the Egyptian wholesaler UCP via Hedef The Alliance UniChem Group puts in place a matrix structure The Group launches the Almus brand for the marketing of manufacturers' generic products (UK) The Group launches the virtual pharmacy chain Alphega in France Our Retail Pharmacy network comprises over 800 pharmacies in the UK, 100 in Norway, 45 in The Netherlands and 28 in Italy

2004: Alliance UniChem increases its shareholding in Andreae-Noris Zahn AG ("ANZAG"), the third largest pharmaceutical wholesaler in Germany, from 10.99 to 29.99 per cent of the equity Development of the virtual pharmacy chain Alphega in Italy

2005: Alliance UniChem acquires 100% of Alloga (specialist healthcare logistics and pre-wholesaling) outside Switzerland The Group acquires Spanish pharmaceutical wholesaler Farmacen The UK retail pharmacy business is re-branded as "Alliance Pharmacy" (formerly "Moss Pharmacy") The Group enters the Northern Ireland pharmacy market through the acquisition of the market leader, Bairds Chemists. Alliance UniChem forms partnership with Portugal's national association of pharmacies, Associação Nacional das Farmácias.

2006: On Monday, 31 July 2006, the completion of its merger with Boots Group, to form Alliance Boots, enabled Alliance UniChem to enter into a new era.

Stefano Pessina

Stefano Pessina, the executive deputy chairman of Alliance Boots, founded Alleanza Salute Italia in 1977 (under the name of Alleanza Farmaceutica), which expanded to form Alliance Sante SA. When UniChem PLC and Alliance Sante merged in 1997/8, he was issued with 36% of the combined Alliance UniChem shares, through his investment company, Alliance Sante Prescription SA. After share issues due to acquisitions, he held 30.00% of Alliance UniChem, prior to its merger with Boots.

Alliance UniChem is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Alliance Boots. As a result, he swapped his 30.00% stake in Alliance UniChem for a 14.94% (15%) shareholding in Alliance Boots, once again through his investment company Alliance Sante Prescription SA.

This was subsequently increased to 145,048,918 shares, representing 14.9913% of Alliance Boots' share capital, promptly after the merger completed.

As of 29 September 2006, Stefano Pessina and his associates stake comprises 146,158,129 shares or 15.106% of Alliance Boots.

Almost all of the interest of Stefano Pessina and associates (145,300,000 shares out of 146,158,129 shares) are held by Alliance Sante Participations S.A.

Stefano Pessina indirectly wholly owns Alliance Sante Participations S.A., the directors of which include Stefano Pessina and Ornella Barra (his 'domestic partner' and the Wholesale and Commercial Affairs Director of Alliance Boots). Stefano Pessina also directly controls 299,108 Alliance Boots shares. The other interests of Ornella Barra in shares held in Alliance Boots are 559,021, representing approximately 0.0578% of Alliance Boots' share capital.

Taken together, Stefano Pessina and Ornella Barra owned 146,158,129 shares, representing 15.106% of Alliance Boots plc's share capital.

Boots Merger

On the 3rd of October 2005, it was formally announced that the company would enter into a friendly merger with Boots Group, the UK's largest retail pharmacy chain.

The merger completed on Monday, 31 July 2006.

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