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NEW YORK CITY-Walgreen Co. has completed its $1.08-billion acquisition of local drugstore chain Duane Reade, an all-cash deal that includes the assumption of $457 million in debt. The transaction includes all 258 Duane Reade stores in the New York City metropolitan area, as well as Duane Reade’s corporate office at 440 Ninth Ave. and two distribution centers.

“Just as Walgreens has been a trusted community pharmacy for more than 100 years, we plan for Duane Reade to continue as the leading drugstore that millions of New Yorkers rely upon,” Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson says in a release. “By combining the strengths of our two companies, we can improve our position as the most convenient provider of consumer goods and services, and pharmacy, health and wellness services in the country.”

The Deerfield, IL-based parent company currently plans for Duane Reade to continue operating under its brand name. With 70 Walgreens-branded stores in the New York metro area, the company will consider “the most effective way to harmonize both brands over time,” according to a release.

Walgreens says it intends to promptly repay or redeem Duane Reade’s outstanding debt related to the local chain’s July 2003 credit agreement, its 9.75% senior subordinated notes due 2011, its 11.75% senior secured notes due 2015, and its senior convertible notes due 2022. John Spina, Walgreens VP of retail integration and new format development, will continue to oversee the Duane Reade integration process, working with Duane Reade chairman and CEO John Lederer, who will continue to direct Duane Reade operations.

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