Stefano Pessina’s ambition to turn Walgreens Boots Alliance into a global drugstore group was dealt a blow by US regulators after he was forced to scrap a $17.2 billion takeover of Rite Aid. (The Times £)

Walgreens Boots Alliance was forced to scrap its $17.2bn acquisition of rival Rite Aid due to competition concerns and instead agreed a new deal on Thursday to purchase more than 2,000 Rite Aid stores for $5.2bn. The decision to halt the deal announced in October 2015 came after “feedback” from the US Federal Trade Commission that “led the company to believe that the parties would not have obtained FTC clearance to consummate the merger”. (The Financial Times £)

Tesco and Booker have asked the competition regulator to start a full investigation of their £3.7 billion merger, one of the most ambitious and potentially transformative in the food and drink industry (The Times £). The CMA could force Tesco to offload stores if it feels the deal will harm competition within the industry (The Telegraph). The grocer has portrayed the deal as an unthreatening expansion into a wholesale market in which it has little presence. But the transaction would make the company a major supplier to thousands of independent convenience stores as well as its own Express shops (The Financial Times £).

The boss of Greene King struck a defiant note as he warned investors that he expected the challenges facing the brewer and operator “to intensify over the next few years” (The Times £). Greene King warned that economic uncertainty and falling real wages have knocked consumer confidence, which Greene King said “is likely continue following the recent election and unknown length and outcome of the Brexit negotiations” (The Financial Times £). The chief of pub giant Greene King reckons a branding overhaul can help it tackle rising costs and keep customers coming through its doors (The Telegraph). Pub group Greene King toasts rising sales and profits but warns of woes ahead (The Daily Mail).

The FT’s Lex column notes Greene King is battling against fundamental consumer trends. “The UK is gradually drying out. Health-conscious young people with gym memberships, protein powder and six-packs are turned off by the empty calories in beer and wine. Less than half of all British adults now drink alcohol regularly — the lowest level on record. Their sobriety is bad news for pub retailer and brewer Greene King.” (The Financial Times £)

America has been the graveyard of many an expansionist British company that was convinced the lessons learnt in its home market could be readily exported. So some nervousness might have been expected when DS Smith announced the purchase of a business serving East Coast states for the equivalent of £899 million including debt. Instead the shares hit a new high, ending up 37¼p at 481½p. (The Times £)

The US hedge funds preparing to assume near-full control of the Co-operative Bank have begun a search for a top executive to accelerate the struggling lender’s path back towards profitability. (Sky News)

The FT takes an in-depth look at L’Oreal after an activist investor urged Nestle to sell its stake in the beauty firm. “L’Oréal success story goes deep below the skin”, writes the FT, noting speculation over stake puts decades old-relationship with Nestlé in the spotlight. (The Financial Times £)