Lloydspharmacy owner Celesio has been acquired by US drug wholesaler McKesson for $8.3bn (£5.12bn) including debt.

McKesson has bought a 50.01% stake in Celesio, owned by the diversified holding company Franz Haniel & Cie, and is offering to buy up the remaining shares for $31.7 each.

The deal reflects the growing international competition in the pharmaceuticals sector following a similar tie-up between Alliance Boots and US giant Walgreens last year.

McKesson expects the deal to result in annual savings of between $275m and $325m by the fourth year.

B. Riley & Co analyst Gene Mannheimer told Reuters: “Celesio has some very strong brands across Europe including Lloydspharmacy and this deal gives McKesson some muscle to flex across Europe.”

Lloydspharmacy last month reported a 69% plunge in pre-tax profits to £18m in the year to December 31, 2012 following changes to NHS drug reimbursement policy. Sales fell 2.2% to £1.72bn.