Walgreens was under tremendous political pressure to remain in Deerfield, Illinois, the location of its corporate headquarters. Today Walgreens made it official: It is not moving, which was reported Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times, a political reporter. The story of Walgreens moving from the United States to Europe has become more of a political story and less of a business story.
In a press release from Walgreens in announcing the completing of its acquisition of Alliance Boots GmbH, the company said, "The Walgreens Boots Alliance holding company will be headquartered in the Chicago area, while Walgreens operations will remain headquartered in Deerfield, Ill. Boots operations also will remain headquartered at its current location in Nottingham, U.K."
In a political victory for President Barack Obama, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, the announcement will come today according to a Chicago Sun Times report. In a CNBC interview with Steve Liesman, senior economics reporter for CNBC, Obama made it clear where he stood on the issue of "tax inversions," and made it clear he would be displeased about a Walgreens move in taking advantage of the corporate tax laws allowing "inversions."
"For you to continue to benefit from that entire architecture that helps you thrive, but move your technical address simply to avoid paying taxes-- is neither fair-- nor-- is it-- something that's going to be good for the country over the long term," said Obama in answer to Liesman's question about inversion, going as far as to ask if such a move was "unpatriotic or un-American."
Yesterday, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois seems to know something. "The CEO of Walgreens, Greg Wasson, has reached out to us and said he would like to speak to me in the morning. I am looking forward to his telephone call and the official announcement of Walgreens’ decision."
"Published reports suggest Walgreens has decided to stay. That is great news for Walgreens. That is great news for America," Durbin said. "What we have learned the past several years is that the reaction of American consumers of this notion of America’s No. 1 pharmacy chain moving overseas has been met with a lot of resistance. There are customers across America and across Illinois who have been loyal to Walgreens for their entire lives and they believe Walgreens should belong in the United States."
Durbin also had been critical of a deal that is moving forward with the pharmaceutical company AbbVie, which is headquartered in North Chicago. Durbin last month mocked Walgreen’s slogan, asking: "Is the 'corner of happy and healthy' somewhere in the Swiss Alps?" He later told the Sun-Times "companies can’t have it both ways."
Both candidates for Governor of Illinois commented on "inversions," reported Capitol Fax's Rich Miller.
Democratic Governor Pat Quinn said, "Big corporations should not be allowed to exploit the tax code to avoid paying their fair share. Members of the House and Senate supporting closure of this loophole are right – corporations should not be allowed to shirk their own responsibilities while passing on the burden to everyday taxpayers."
Quinn added, "These corporations benefit from America's world-class infrastructure, education system, skilled workforce and competitive economy – not to mention U.S. customers. Yet they’re looking to renounce their citizenship and shortchange America and the everyday people who helped them grow and thrive. I urge Congress to take swift action on the President’s proposal to end this abuse and close this unpatriotic loophole. It's the right thing to do."
Quinn's opponent, Bruce Rauner, also issued a statement. "America needs to compete, Illinois needs to compete. The right answer is not to create walls, to block companies and people. That's terrible. We should be about freedom, choice and competition."