(Bloomberg) -- Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is considering former Cigna Group executive Tim Wentworth to be its next chief executive officer, according to people familiar with the matter.
A final decision hasn’t been made and Wentworth may not wind up in the job, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing private information. Wentworth and a representative for Walgreens both declined to comment.
The company’s shares rose 5.8% at 1:24 p.m. in New York.
Walgreens is looking for a new CEO after Rosalind Brewer, a longtime retail executive, departed abruptly at the end of August after just two-and-a-half years on the job. The company’s stock lost half its value during her brief tenure and last quarter management cut full-year profit forecasts.
Brewer tried to make Walgreens a bigger player in health care. She increased the company’s stake in VillageMD, which acquired urgent-care provider Summit Health-CityMD, and put primary care centers in hundreds of US stores. It didn’t pay off quickly enough. The company announced her departure on Sept. 1, saying she’d left the day prior. Ginger Graham, the company’s lead independent director, is serving as interim CEO.
If Wentworth is appointed, it would put a health-care veteran atop the country’s second-largest drugstore chain. Analysts see him as a strong choice. He’s well-known by investors and has extensive knowledge of payers and the pharmacy business, Evercore ISI analyst Elizabeth Anderson said in a note Friday. He also has big-company experience, which could be useful for a company turnaround, said Brian Tanquilut, a Jefferies analyst.
Walgreens is under pressure to broaden its focus as retail stores contend with competition from Amazon and Walmart. The company’s biggest rival, CVS Health Corp., has outpaced Walgreens on the back of its purchase of insurance giant Aetna.
Wentworth was CEO of Express Scripts, a top pharmacy benefits manager, and led the company’s $53 billion merger with Cigna in 2018. Wentworth then became CEO of the company’s newly formed Evernorth health services segment, which includes Express Scripts as well as other units like MDLive.
Cigna announced Wentworth’s retirement two years ago and his employment officially ended in February 2022, according to a company filing. He is subject to a non-compete agreement for two years from the end of his employment, according to Cigna filings, which would expire in February 2024.
The next CEO of Walgreens will have to answer to billionaire Stefano Pessina, who ran the company for six years after Walgreens merged with the European pharmacy chain Alliance Boots. Pessina remains executive chairman and is the company’s largest shareholder, with an about 17% stake, according to the most recent data from Bloomberg.
--With assistance from Fiona Rutherford.
(Adds analyst comments in fifth paragraph)
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