Philp Morris Completes Vectura Takeover; Health Groups Protests

Cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris International Inc. (PM) on Thursday completed its takeover of asthma inhaler maker Vectura in a 1.1-billion-pound deal. The takeover was completed after Philip Morris secured the support of Vectura shareholders.

Philip Morris had offered Vectura shareholders a deal of 165 pence-per-share and almost 75 percent of the shareholders supported the deal.

The purchase of the British inhaler maker is part of Philip Morris' extended plan to manufacture "smoke-free" products and turn the company into a "broader healthcare and wellness" one.

Commenting on the takeover, Philip Morris Chief Executive Jacek Olczak said that acquiring Vectura is a critical part of his strategy to move the company "Beyond Nicotine".

The Chief Executive said the company would give Vectura's scientists all the resources and expertise needed to reach at least $1 billion in net revenue from "Beyond Nicotine" products by the year 2025.

The takeover has, however, rubbed health groups like Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation in the wrong away as they point out the irony of a tobacco company purchasing a company manufacturing respiratory cures. Both groups have sent a letter to the British Government to enquire into the takeover, citing conflict of interest matters. The letter was co-signed by 35 charities, public health experts and clinicians.

Commenting on the developments, Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive of Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation, said, "There's now a very real risk that Vectura's deal with big tobacco will lead to the cigarette industry wielding undue influence on UK health policy."

While Philip Morris received the 50 percent threshold to make its offer unconditional, it has not yet reached the 75 percent of shares it needs to delist Vectura. The company has extended till September 30, its offer to help Vectura shareholders give it a good consideration.

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