Exclusive-Philip Morris to get EU nod for Swedish Match with asset sale -sources
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Marlboro maker Philip Morris is set to gain EU antitrust approval for its $16 billion bid for Swedish Match after offering to sell the target’s logistics business, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.
Philip Morris, which in May announced the deal aimed at expanding its presence in the fast-growing market for cigarette alternatives, submitted the concession to the European Commission early this month.
The U.S. company is seeking to boost the sale of smoke-free products to more than half of its revenue by 2025.
Stockholm-based Swedish Match controls about half the world’s market for snus, a Scandinavian moist oral tobacco product which users place behind their upper lip, and is also the global industry leader for nicotine pouches.
The European Union’s competition enforcer, which is scheduled to decide on the deal by Oct. 25, declined to comment. Philip Morris and Swedish Match also declined to comment.
Philip Morris last week hiked its offer for Swedish Match in an effort to win over shareholders waiting for a sweetened bid.
Hedge funds, including Elliott Management Corp, have built up their stakes in Swedish Match in hopes of a higher bid.
Under Swedish law, 90% of Swedish Match shareholders need to approve the offer before Nov. 4. Philip Morris is sticking to this acceptance rate.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Additional reporting by Anna Ringstrom and Marie Mannes in Stockholm; Editing by Jan Harvey and Alexander Smith)