Philip Morris expects EU to approve $16bn Sweden game in late October

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BRUSSELS, Oct 4 (Reuters) – Philip Morris International (PM.N) is awaiting EU antitrust approval for its $16 billion bid for tobacco and nicotine products maker Swedish Match (SWMA. ST) in late October, the company announced Tuesday.

Marlboro maker Philip Morris announced its cash offer for the Stockholm-based group at 106 crowns per share in May, seeking to expand into the rapidly growing market for alternatives to cigarettes.

Philip Morris, who split from Swedish rival Match Altria (MO.N) in 2008, said he wanted smoke-free products to account for more than half of sales by 2025.

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“PMHH’s current assessment is that the process with the European Commission will instead be completed by the end of October 2022,” Philip Morris said in a statement, as he extended the period for accepting his offer to Swedish Match shareholders until to November 4.

“We believe our offering remains very compelling, particularly given the current market environment,” chief executive Jacek Olczak said in a statement.

“We look forward to completing the transaction, while continuing to actively progress our strategic alternatives to Swedish Match, should the offer ultimately fail,” the CEO said.

The extension of the EU competition authority’s preliminary review from its scheduled October 11 deadline would suggest that Philip Morris may have to come up with solutions.

The Commission declined to comment.

Earlier on Tuesday, sources told Reuters that the EU’s antitrust authority sees no competition concerns arising from the deal, but no final decision has been made.

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Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by David Goodman, Bill Berkrot and Grant McCool

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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