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Walgreen says CEO Greg Wasson will retire

Walgreen says president and chief executive Greg Wasson will retire after the drugstore chain completes its merger with health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots.

Walgreen expects that deal to close during the first quarter. The largest U.S. drugstore operator says Alliance Boots chairman Stefano Pessina will become its acting CEO.

“When I became CEO six years ago, I had three goals – to transform the front end of Walgreens drugstores, to advance the role that community pharmacy plays in health care and to find the right partner to take Walgreens global,” Wasson said in a news release. “With the creation of Walgreens Boots Alliance, it is now time for new leadership to move that vision forward.”

Wasson joined Walgreen in 1980 as a pharmacy intern while a student at Purdue University’s School of Pharmacy.

Wasson became CEO of Walgreen Co. in February 2009, and early in his tenure the company bought the New York City-based Duane Reade chain. In August Walgreen said it would buy full control of Alliance Boots, a Swiss company that runs the largest drugstore chain in the U.K.

Deerfield-based Walgreen has more than 8,200 stores; Alliance Boots has about 4,600.

Walgreen shareholders are scheduled to vote on the deal Dec. 29.