Welcia, Tsuruha Mull Merging Operations

Yomiuri Shimbun file photos
The logos of Tsuruha and Welcia

TOKYO, Feb. 26 (Jiji Press) — Welcia Holdings Co., Japan’s largest drugstore chain, and Tsuruha Holdings Inc., the second-largest player in the country, are considering integrating their operations, people familiar with the matter said Sunday.

The move is being led by Aeon Co., a Japanese retailer which owns over 50% of Welcia and about 10% of Tsuruha. A merger between Welcia and Tsuruha would create a drugstore alliance with annual sales of about ¥2 trillion.

Aeon is in talks with Hong Kong-based investment fund Oasis Management Co., which holds about 13% of Tsuruha, to buy the stake.

In January, Aeon said it would enter into exclusive talks with Oasis on the deal. If Aeon acquires all of Oasis’ holdings of Tsuruha shares, its stake in the drugstore chain will rise to about 26%.