Imperial Tobacco secures 93.5% Of Altadis shareholders (50% of Habanos)
Posted: 22 January 2008 07:19 PM   [ Ignore ]
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By Santiago Perez | DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

U.K.-based tobacco giant Imperial Tobacco Group PLC Tuesday said its cash offer for Altadis SA has been accepted by 93.5% of shareholders of the Spanish-French tobacco company, paving the wave for the completion of its EUR12.6 billion acquisition.

The deal would allow Imperial, known for its Davidoff and West brand cigarettes, to close the gap on rivals Altria Group Inc.‘s Philip Morris business, Japan Tobacco Inc. and British American Tobacco PLC.

Imperial said in a statement that it received close to 236 million Altadis shares, according to preliminary calculations, well above the minimum acceptance level of 80% set in Imperial’s takeover bid conditions.

The final result of the takeover offer is expected to be disclosed by the Spanish market supervisor CNMV Friday. After that, Imperial said it plans to disclose its intentions in relation to cigarette distributor Compania de Distribucion Integral Logista SA.

Analysts have speculated that Imperial could sell Logista to focus on core cigarette and cigar manufacturing operations.

Altadis, the manufacturer of Fortune, Gitanes and Ducados cigarette brands, is also the world’s leading cigar distributor through its 50-50 venture with the Cuban state-owned cigar company Habanos.

The approach from Imperial took place at a time of weakness for Altadis, which has suffered from a steep decline in profits and has been forced to cut costs as core Spanish and French cigarette markets have been hard hit by tougher anti-tobacco regulations, cutthroat price competition and higher taxes.

Imperial first approached Altadis in March with a non-binding bid of EUR45 per share, which Altadis turned down. The U.K. company was again rebuffed when it returned with a higher offer of EUR47 per share in April, valuing Altadis at EUR12.03 billion. It raised its bid one more time, to EUR50 per share, in order to secure the support of Altadis’ board, as private equity firms CVC and PAI Partners launched their own EUR50-per-share, non-binding offer in May.

Imperial plans to de-list Altadis from Spanish and French stock markets following the takeover.

At 1415 GMT, Imperial Tobacco shares were down 71 pence, or 3%, to 2,327 pence in London. In Madrid, Altadis traded up EUR0.26, or 0.5%, to EUR49.91. The U.K. and Spanish markets traded generally flat after retracing earlier losses when the U.S. Federal Reserve surprised investors with a 75-basis-point cut in interest rates.

Company Web site: http://www.altadis.com

-By Santiago Perez, Dow Jones Newswires; 34 91 395 8119; santiago.perez@ dowjones.com

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Posted: 25 January 2008 05:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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And this from Reuters

Altadis CEO turns down Imperial seat after takeover

The chief executive of Altadis has turned down an offer to sit on the board of Imperial Tobacco, once the British company formally takes ownership of the Franco-Spanish cigarette maker.

The world’s fourth-biggest cigarette maker is in the final days of sealing its 12.6 billion euro ($18.24 billion) cash deal to buy Altadis, the Gauloises and Fortuna cigarette maker.

In a brief statement to the Spanish stock exchange on Thursday, the company said CEO Antonio Vazquez would not accept Imperial’s offer to join its board and become chief executive of the combined group’s cigar and logistics group for personal reasons.

Altadis is the world’s biggest seller of cigars with annual revenue of 888 million euros in that division. It offers a range of Cuban brands due to its 50-percent interest in Corporacion Habanos.

Imperial said on Tuesday that 93.5 percent of Altadis’s shareholders had already voted for a takeover by Imperial at 50 euros a share in cash - taking the deal unconditional. Acceptances are likely to rise after votes received via Paris’ Euronext exchange are added.

Imperial’s next decision, expected on Friday, is what it intends to do with the Madrid group’s 1.3 billion euro, 59 percent, stake in transport logistics group Logista.

Reporting by Ben Harding, editing by Maureen Bavdek

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