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    Philip Morris offers £13bn for Swedish Match

    A Swedish Match concept store for the tobacco group's moist powder tobacco "snus" in Stockholm, Sweden October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Anna Ringstrom/File Photo

    Philip Morris International said Wednesday it offered $16 billion to acquire smokeless tobacco company Swedish Match as the US group aims to move away from its traditional cigarette business.

    The board of Swedish Match recommended that its shareholders accept the bid of 106 Swedish kronor per share, nearly 40 percent above its closing share price on Monday, the companies said in separate statements.

    The deal would total 161.2 billion Swedish kronor (£13.08bn).

    Stockholm-based Swedish Match derives more than 65 percent of its revenue from smoke-free products, including chewing tobacco and the Zyn brand of nicotine pouches.

    Philip Morris announced in 2016 a long-term goal to stop selling cigarettes and replace them with alternatives that it says are less harmful.

    The US company sells cigarette brands such as Marlboro and Chesterfield in 180 markets outside the United States and has invested billions of dollars since 2008 in vapor products, oral nicotine and other “reduced-risk” products.

    Last year it clinched a controversial takeover of British breathing inhaler manufacturer Vectura, despite fierce opposition from health campaigners and medical groups.

    The group plans to generate at least $1.0 billion in annual net revenues from nicotine-free products by 2025.

    “We are pleased to announce this exciting next step in Philip Morris International’s and Swedish Match’s trajectory toward a smoke-free future,” the US company’s chief executive, Jacek Olczak, said in a statement.

    “Underpinned by compelling strategic and financial rationale, this combination would create a global smoke-free champion – strengthened by  complementary geographic footprints, commercial capabilities and product portfolios – and open up significant platforms for growth in the US and internationally,” he said.

    Swedish Match is also known for making cigars and “snus”, a form of snuff particular to Nordic countries.

    The sale of snus, a moist powder tobacco origination from dry snuff, is illegal across the European Union, but Sweden has an exemption.

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