Drugs wholesaler and pharmacy retailer Alliance Boots has rejected a £9.7 billion pound bid from the world’s biggest private equity firm.

The board said the bid underestimated "the fundamental value of the company or the attractive prospects, opportunities and synergies available".

Alliance Unichem founder, Stefano Pessina is the largest group shareholder with a 15% stake and is leading Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) in the bid. KKR is the private equity firm also considering a £10bn bid for J Sainsbury. He was also involved in the £7bn merger of Alliance and Boots last year, which saw the creation of one of the world’s largest drug wholesalers, with 40% market share.

Analysts have said this early rebuff is unlikely to put the consortium off. But the board may be willing to stir a bidding war with other interested parties off the surge in share price brought on by news of the bid.

Shares in the company rose 7.15% by close of trading on the London Stock Exchange yesterday, or 66.5 pence to 996.5p.