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LONDON, May 15 (Reuters) - Alliance Boots, which runs Europe's largest pharmacy chain, has made more synergies than expected so far with U.S. drugstore chain operator Walgreen Co, it said, as it reported a 18.5 percent rise in underlying attributable profit.
Alliance Boots, in which Walgreen bought a 45 percent stake in 2012 with an option to buy the rest in 2015, reported sales for the year to March 31 rose 4.3 percent to 23.4 billion pounds ($39.26 billion), with underlying profit of 840 million pounds.
"Our joint synergy programme with Walgreens is increasingly providing us with significant financial benefits," Alliance Boots said in a statement. "While still at an early stage, we are pleased with the overall progress of the programme, total synergies achieved to date tracking ahead of target."
Walgreens reported a lower-than-expected profit for the quarter ended Feb. 28 but said it expected a bigger boost this year from its partnership with Alliance Boots.
Last week, Alliance Boots agreed to buy Grupo Casa Saba SAB de CV's pharmacy networks in Mexico and Chile. ($1 = 0.5960 British Pounds) (Reporting by Emma Thomasson; editing by Kate Holton)