Reliance Retail and Apollo are understood to have made a formal offer for Boots, which would allow current owner Walgreens to retain a significant minority stake.
The binding bid values the UK health and beauty retailer at between £5bn and £6bn, as first reported by the Financial Times.
The joint bidders have emerged as the frontrunner to snap up Boots after brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, who own Asda, threatened to walk away last month alongside joint bidder TDR Capital due to a disagreement over price.
Reliance, which is run by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, and private equity firm Apollo were previously pursuing separate bids for Boots.
The two firms, which joined forces for a prospective bid in April, are understood to want to expand Boots’ physical footprint into India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
It is understood that, under the terms of this bid, Walgreens Boots Alliance would keep a stake of 30% to 40% in the UK beauty chain, which operates more than 2,000 stores across the UK and employs 51,000 people.
US giant Walgreens kicked off the sale of Boots in January with an initial £7bn price tag as the group decided to focus on US healthcare, although bids to date are said to have all fallen beneath this threshold.
It is understood that a consortium of bidders from CVC Capital Partners and Bain Capital have since walked away from a prospective offer.
Walgreens Boots Alliance has not accepted the deal offered by Reliance Retail and Apollo at this time.
Reliance’s retail business, which made nearly $26bn last year, acquired UK toy chain Hamley’s for approximately £70m in 2019.
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