The protracted auction of Boots is at risk of falling apart as debt markets seize up and buyers grow nervy amid a consumer downturn.
US private equity giant Apollo and Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries tabled a joint bid this month that is about £1.5 billion below the £7 billion asking price, although Boots’ US owner Walgreens may keep a stake. Meanwhile, there are big doubts over whether a rival bid will emerge from the Issa brothers and private equity firm TDR, the joint owners of Asda.
The brothers, Mohsin and Zuber, are still deliberating, but it is hard to raise finance. “It’s looking tough. The debt markets are closed,” a source close to the Issas said.
Apollo’s financing has been raised from investment banks, albeit