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) --



plans to acquire New York-based drugstore chain

Duane Reade

from affiliates of Oak Hill Capital Partners for $1.075 billion.

Walgreen will buy Duane Reade for cash, plus the assumption of debt.

Walgreen, in a statement Wednesday, said the acquisition will give it a leading position in the nation's largest retail and drugstore market. Duane Reade had unaudited net sales of $1.8 billion for the latest 12-month period ending Dec. 26, 2009, and has the highest sales per square foot in the retail drugstore industry nationwide, Walgree said.

Walgreen expects the deal to close in its current fiscal year ending Aug. 31.

The company expects to achieve synergies between $120 to $130 million in the third year after the transaction closes. Walgreen anticipates the acquisition will be dilutive to per-share earnings in the first 12 months after closing, and accretive in the next 12 months and after.

Duane Reade will continue to operate under its brand name.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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