Jean Coutu, the owner of his eponymous drugstore chain, made the tough decision this year to sell his iconic pharmacy business that took a half century to build. The $4.5 billion friendly deal with fellow Quebec powerhouse Metro Inc. will see Coutu shareholders get a combination of cash and Metro stocks worth $24.50 per share. For Coutu, who has a 93% voting stake in his company, the merger personally earns him $2.5 billion in cash and stock, and gives him a 6% stake in Metro. Meanwhile, his son François is expected to head up Metro’s new pharmacy business.
As a pharmacy student in Montreal in the 1960s, Coutu managed a Parmacie Leduc; after he graduated, he and several other students asked to be associates of the company but were refused. Not to be deterred, in 1967 Coutu launched Farmaterias, a chain of pharmacies that sold over-the-counter products at a discount. In 1969 he put all of his savings toward the Jean Coutu Discount Pharmacies Chain, which has since grown to be one of Canada’s largest drugstore brands.
Updated Thursday, November 9, 2017