People walk by a Walgreens store on June 19, 2012 in San Francisco, Calif. U.S.-based drug store chain Walgreens has announced a deal to purchase a 45 percent stake in European pharmacy retailer Alliance Boots for $6.7 billion. (Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)

Walgreens announced Tuesday that it would pay $6.7 billion for a 45 percent stake in Alliance Boots, making for a strategic partnership between the country’s largest drug store chain and a privately held pharmacy and beauty company with a sizeable presence in Europe.

In a statement, Walgreens cited the companies’ “complementary geographic footprints” as one of the reasons for executing the deal. Indeed, the company’s portfolios seem to have little overlap. Walgreens is practically ubiquitous in the United States, with nearly 8,000 outlets nationwide and annual sales totalling $72 billion in 2011. On its Web site, Alliance Boots says that it operates 3,330 stores in 11 countries. In addition to its retail stores, Alliance Boots’s portfolio includes a pharmaceutical wholesale business and several brands of beauty products.

By joining forces, the companies say they’ll have a better shot at growing their businesses.

“Together we will be ideally positioned to expand our customer offerings in our existing markets and become the health and wellbeing partner of choice in emerging markets,” Gregory Wasson, president and CEO of Walgreens, said in a statement.

The alliance didn’t seem to impress investors, as the U.S. company’s stock was down almost 6 percent on Tuesday afternoon.

In a separate announcement, Walgreens said it was set to pay its shareholders the largest quarterly dividend in company history. The dividend would rise to 27.5 cents per share from 22.5 cents per share.

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