Kroger to buy specialty pharmacy services provider Axium

LOS ANGELES Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:05pm EST

A selection of Kroger brand products is seen in a grocery cart at a Kroger-owned King Soopers store in Golden, Colorado September 15, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A selection of Kroger brand products is seen in a grocery cart at a Kroger-owned King Soopers store in Golden, Colorado September 15, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Supermarket operator Kroger Co (KR.N) said on Thursday it will buy Axium Pharmacy Holdings Inc, a pharmacy services provider specializing in complex and chronic medical conditions such as cancer, as part of its growth strategy.

Kroger, the largest U.S. supermarket operator, said it would acquire the outstanding shares of privately held Axium. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Lake Mary, Florida-based Axium will give Kroger "significantly enhanced capabilities to serve customers who require complex drug therapies, and to deliver those therapies at greater value to customers and insurance payers," the company said.

"Kroger and Axium are a strategic fit as we look to enter the high-growth specialty pharmacy business," Lincoln Lutz, Kroger's vice president of corporate pharmacy, said in a statement.

Kroger operates supermarkets such as Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Smith's and Food 4 Less. It has 1,950 pharmacy locations and 91 Little Clinic locations.

Axium will operate as an independent company within Kroger.

Shares in Kroger, which had no prior ownership interest in Axium, were down 0.3 percent at $24.41 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting By Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; editing by John Wallace)

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