Walgreen CEO Search on Track

Deerfield, Ill. Walgreen Co. said Wednesday that it could choose its full-time CEO by early February.

Chairman and acting CEO Alan McNally said Walgreen has retained executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates to help find a replacement for former CEO Jeffrey Rein. McNally said it generally takes three or four months to find a new chief executive, which implies the company could complete its search by early February.

He said Walgreen is considering both internal and external candidates and is not favoring one over the other.

Rein resigned from Walgreen on Oct. 10, shortly after Walgreen ended its attempt to buy Longs Drugs Stores. He led the company for about two and a half years.

McNally's comments came at Walgreen's annual shareholders meeting.

In related news, Walgreens plans to reduce about 1,000 corporate staff and field-management positions in 2009. The job cuts are a part of its effort to reduce capital spending by $1 billion over the next three years.

Walgreens is also targeting an additional $1 billion in annual cost reductions by 2011, it said. The pharmacy chain plans to reduce 9% of existing positions through voluntary retirement packages or outright job cuts through August, according to details released earlier this month.

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