Entrepreneurial and visionary leader
Stefano Pessina is the Executive Chairman of Walgreens Boots Alliance. He has been the driving force behind the merger of Walgreens and Alliance Boots, creating the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise. Walgreens Boots Alliance is the largest retail pharmacy, health and daily living destination across the U.S. and Europe. Together with its equity method investments, Walgreens Boots Alliance has a presence in more than 25* countries and employs more than 450,000* people.
Born in Italy, Stefano graduated in nuclear engineering from Politecnico di Milano before starting his career in academia and later joining market research firm ACNielsen in Milan.
Stefano is well respected for his passion and dedication to the healthcare industry, in which he has played a key role in a career spanning four decades.
Driving innovation in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry
Stefano’s vision for a global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise began in the 1970s, when he joined his family’s local pharmaceutical wholesale business. Throughout Stefano’s career, he has delivered successful organic growth, as well as innovative expansions through mergers and acquisitions.
As Executive Deputy Chairman of Alliance UniChem, Stefano led the company's merger with Boots Group PLC in 2006. In July the following year, the acquisition of Alliance Boots by AB Acquisitions (a company jointly backed by Stefano and the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) took the group private and ushered in a new era of growth. His strategic vision was that the deal would enable the Group to expand further and faster to enhance its position as an international leader in the healthcare services and beauty industries.
Transforming healthcare with unprecedented deals
Stefano took a crucial step towards achieving his vision of creating the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise by completing the strategic partnership between Alliance Boots and Walgreen Co (Walgreens). Walgreens Boots Alliance was created on December 31, 2014. The new global enterprise combines Walgreens, the largest drugstore chain in the U.S.; Boots, the market leader in European retail pharmacy; and Alliance Healthcare, a leading international wholesaler and distributor.
In a further step towards the creation of an efficient global network, in 2013 Alliance Boots and Walgreens signed an innovative long-term partnership with AmerisourceBergen, one of the largest global pharmaceutical sourcing and distribution services companies. In January 2021, this relationship evolved into a strategic agreement under which AmerisourceBergen will acquire the majority of Walgreens Boots Alliance’s Alliance Healthcare businesses. The two companies have also agreed to strengthen their strategic partnership by extending and expanding their commercial agreements. Walgreens Boots Alliance is the largest shareholder of AmerisourceBergen with a stake of nearly 30 percent.
The first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise
The true scale of Stefano’s vision is demonstrated by the size of the new enterprise. Walgreens Boots Alliance (together with its equity method investments) is:
• a global leader in pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing retail with more than 21,000* stores in 11* countries
• one of the largest global pharmaceutical wholesale and distribution networks with over 425* distribution centers delivering to more than 250,000** pharmacies, doctors, health centers and hospitals each year in 20* countries
• one of the world’s largest purchasers of prescription drugs and many other health and wellbeing products
As well as acting as Executive Chairman of the Board of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Stefano also serves on the Board of Directors of a number of private companies.
Stefano Pessina is the Executive Chairman of Walgreens Boots Alliance.
Stefano becomes Executive Chairman
In March 2021, Stefano Pessina assumes the role of Executive Chairman of the Board of Walgreens Boots Alliance.
Walgreens Boots Alliance and Microsoft Establish Strategic Partnership
In January 2019, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Microsoft joined forces to develop new health care delivery models, technology and retail innovations to advance and improve the future of health care.
Walgreens Boots Alliance Joins Dow Jones Industrial Average
In June 2018, Walgreens Boots Alliance joined the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) as one of its 30 components.
Walgreens Boots Alliance Completes Investment in GuoDa
In July 2018, the company announced that following receipt of regulatory approvals, it had completed the previously announced agreement to acquire a 40 percent minority stake in GuoDa, a leading retail pharmacy chain in China.
Walgreens Boots Alliance Launch Flagship Store on Alibaba Group’s Tmall Global Platform
In September 2018, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Alibaba launched a Boots flagship store on Tmall Global, Alibaba’s B2C platform for international brands and retailers, introducing iconic Boots beauty brands to more than half a billion consumers on Alibaba’s platforms in China.
Walgreens Boots Alliance announces partnership with WPP
In January 2017, the company announced a communications and marketing partnership with WPP, the world’s largest communications services group.
Walgreens Boots Alliance purchases Rite Aid stores
Walgreens Boots Alliance announced in September 2017 an amended and restated asset purchase agreement to purchase 1,932 stores, three distribution centers and related inventory from Rite Aid Corporation.
Walgreens Boots Alliance invests in GuoDa
In December 2017, the company announced an agreement with China National Accord Medicines Corporation Ltd. to take a 40% holding in GuoDa, a leading retail pharmacy chain in China.
Walgreens Boots Alliance increases stake in AmerisourceBergen
Walgreens Boots Alliance announced in March 2016 that it had exercised warrants to purchase AmerisourceBergen shares, taking 23.9%** of one of the largest global pharmaceutical sourcing and distribution services companies.
Walgreens Boots Alliance forms franchise partnership with Emart
Walgreens Boots Alliance announced in July 2016 an agreement to form a franchise partnership with Emart Company Ltd, South Korea's number one hypermarket retailer.
Stefano confirmed as Chief Executive Officer
In July 2015, Walgreens Boots Alliance’s board of directors named Stefano Pessina Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
In 2014 Alliance Boots announced that it had signed an agreement to acquire Farmacias Ahumada ("FASA"). The acquisition comprises two main businesses: Farmacias Benavides, the third largest retail pharmacy chain in Mexico with around 1,000 stores, and Farmacias Ahumada, the second largest retail pharmacy chain in Chile with around 450 stores.
Walgreens and Alliance Boots complete merger
Walgreens and Alliance Boots complete Step 2 of their strategic partnership to form Walgreens Boots Alliance (Nasdaq: WBA), finalizing the two-step merger launched in 2012 to create the world’s first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise. Stefano Pessina becomes Executive Vice Chairman and Acting Chief Executive Officer.
Alliance Boots increases investment in China
Alliance Boots and Walgreens announce strategic partnership
In 2012, Alliance Boots and Walgreens, the largest drug store chain in the US, announced a landmark strategic partnership. Alliance Santé, of which Stefano Pessina is a director and whose ultimate ownership is a family trust, takes a significant stake in Walgreens.
Alliance Boots first enters China
Stefano drove the formation of a 50:50 joint venture in China with Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals Corporation, which at the time was the fourth largest pharmaceutical wholesaler in China.
Creation of Alliance UniChem
In 1997, Alliance Santé merged with the UK business, UniChem, to form the Alliance UniChem. In just a few years, Stefano developed Alliance UniChem into a pan-European leader with two core businesses, pharmaceutical wholesale and retail pharmacy, with a presence in over 12 countries. Stefano was CEO of Alliance Unichem until 2004 when he became Executive Deputy Chairman.
Creation of Alliance Santé
In 1988, Stefano expanded his business into several Southern European countries through mergers, acquisitions and partnerships. In 1991, Alliance Santé was born of these acquisitions and of an innovative merger with some French wholesalers.
By 1985 – New vision
Stefano was now overseeing Italy’s leading pharmaceutical wholesaler and began to form his vision to create an international pharmaceutical group
Creation of Alleanza Farmaceutica (later became Alleanza Salute Italia)
In the mid-1970’s, Stefano joined his family’s local pharmaceutical wholesale business. Stefano restructured the family company and then acquired a number of other small pharmaceutical wholesale businesses to create Alleanza Farmaceutica in 1977, which later became Alleanza Salute Italia.