Philip Morris International wants to buy inhaler manufacturer Vectura

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Marlboro maker Philip Morris International (PMI) on Sunday increased its bid for pharmaceutical company Vectura to more than £ 1bn ($ 1.4bn) in a bid to fend off a rival bid from the capital group. American investment Carlyle.
In a report, Philip Morris International (PM) said it had increased its bid on Vectura to £ 1.65 ($ 2.29) per share, valuing the asthma inhaler maker at 1.02 billion pounds ($ 1.4 billion).
The agreement would boost the tobacco giant’s ambition to generate more than half of its net revenues from smokeless products such as e-cigarettes and respiratory medications within four years, up from around a quarter today. PMI currently sells cigarettes in over 175 markets.
Vectura has manufactured 13 inhaled drugs for companies such as Novartis (NVS) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to treat lung conditions, including asthma. He is currently working on an inhalation treatment for Covid-19 with Inspira Pharmaceuticals, another UK company.

“PMI intends to operate Vectura as a stand-alone business unit that will be the backbone of PMI’s inhaled therapeutic business,” said Philip Morris International.

Tobacco companies are under pressure to diversify amid declining numbers of smokers, pressure from governments to reduce the prevalence and dangers of smoking, and steps taken by investors to phase out tobacco products of their wallets.

Philip Morris International has invested $ 8 billion and hired dozens of scientists and technicians to develop alternatives to cigarettes, including its flagship product IQOS, which heats rather than burns tobacco.

The company also recently purchased Fertin Pharma, which makes oral medicines to treat pain, allergies and various other conditions.

Philip Morris International has been separated from the New York listed company Altria (MO) in 2008. Altria owns Philip Morris USA, which sells brands of cigarettes such as Marlboro, Virginia Slims, Parliament and Merit in the United States.

Backlash

Health charities are skeptical of Philip Morris International’s plans and have urged the UK government to block the Vectura deal, warning it will allow the tobacco industry to influence public health policy in Britain .

“It’s ironic that a tobacco company wants to invest in the lung health industry when its products are the leading preventable cause of cancer, including lung cancer,” said the managing director of Cancer Research UK, Michelle Mitchell, in a statement last month.

“If PMI really wanted to help, they could stop aggressively promoting and selling their products,” she added.

In a letter to the British government, Cancer Research UK, the British Lung Foundation and Action on Smoking and Health said there is “enormous unease” that a tobacco company could benefit from treatments for conditions such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

“There is a real prospect that PMI will use this acquisition to legitimize the tobacco industry’s participation in health debates in the UK. This must not happen,” the organizations said, calling on the government to intervene.

Philip Morris’s revised offer came just two days after Carlyle raised his own offer on Vectura to £ 1.55 ($ 2.15) per share.

Vectura had recommended Carlyle’s offer to shareholders on Friday, expressing concerns about its membership in Philip Morris and saying it could be “better positioned under Carlyle ownership.” The company said Monday it was withdrawing the recommendation but had no plans to recommend Philip Morris International’s offer yet.

The takeover battle will enter an auction process if rival bidders do not make final offers by Tuesday, according to UK regulators.

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