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Merlo's talent will help CVS grow

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — The news that Larry Merlo is taking the helm at CVS Caremark was expected, but that doesn't take away from its significance.

(THE NEWS: Merlo to assume CEO role at CVS Caremark. For the full story, click here)

Since beginning his career in chain pharmacy in 1978 with People's Drug (which CVS acquired in 1990), Merlo has become an operations guru who wrote the book on successfully integrating acquisitions.

The chain hasn't always been the healthcare mammoth it is today and, over the years, has grown largely through acquisitions. The list includes 2,000 stores from Revco, 240 stores from Arbor Drugs, some 1,260 Eckerd stores, 700 stand-alone Sav-on and Osco drug stores from Albertsons and, more recently, Longs Drug Stores' 521 retail locations in California, Hawaii, Nevada and Arizona, as well as its pharmacy benefit management services.

That's not to mention the acquisitions of retail-clinic operator MinuteClinic and pharmacy benefit manager Caremark.

Today, the company not only has revenues approaching $100 billion but its network of some 7,100 retail locations looks like one cohesive unit; clearly, a significant portion of that success can be attributed to the talents of Merlo.

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