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A customer enters a Walgreens store in San Pablo, California. Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is reaching out to potential buyers of the $8.8 billion Boots drugstore chain in the UK.听

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is reaching out to potential buyers of the 拢7 billion ($8.8 billion) Boots drugstore chain in the UK, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Deerfield, Illinois-based company is working with advisers to hold early-stage discussions with would-be bidders, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. No formal sale process has begun, they said.

A Walgreens representative declined to comment. The stock jumped 7.2% to $18.43 at 10:38 a.m. in New York after Bloomberg SM天地论坛 reported that the company was contacting possible buyers.

The company last year revived discussions on a potential exit from the UK chain, almost 18 months after scrapping a planned sale, Bloomberg reported in December. Boots could be valued at about 拢7 billion in an exit, with one possibility being an initial public offering in London, Bloomberg reported at the time.

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Walgreens shares have plunged 42% in the past year as the company struggled to restore growth. This year Walgreens cut its dividend by half and lowered its profit outlook, citing reduced consumer spending on non-essential items.

A sale would undo a blockbuster trans-Atlantic merger that took place in stages beginning more than a decade ago.

With assistance from Michelle F. Davis, Cynthia Koons and David Hellier

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