Philip Morris announces merger talks with Altria Group

Washington, Aug 27 (AFP/APP):Tobacco firms Philip Morris International and the US firm Altria Group are considering a potential merger, Philip Morris announced Tuesday.

The company said the talks on an all-stock merger of equals were at early stages and that there could be “no assurance” that any agreement or final transaction would occur.

The potential tie-up would reconnect the companies. Altria spun off Philip Morris International in 2008, and still owns Philip Morris USA.

A merger could help the two companies confront declining cigarette sales.

Altria, which markets Marlboro brand cigarettes in the United States, has diversified in recent years beyond the traditional tobacco market, taking stakes in wine, beer and cannabinoid companies as well as the e-cigarette company Juul.

Philip Morris recently received US regulatory approval to introduce the tobacco heating system IQOS, which Altria plans to market in the United States as well.

Shares in Philip Morris on Tuesday morning were 5.7 percent lower on Wall Street while Altria jumped 8.3 percent.

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