Thursday, February 1, 2007

Altria Ready to Consider Breaking Up Domestic and International Tobacco Holdings

Article in the Wall Street Journal -- Altria Ready to Consider Next Breakup: Tobacco, by Vanessa O'Connell:

Having set a March 30 date for the spinoff of its roughly 89% stake in Kraft Foods Inc., Altria Group Inc. is now expected to decide on the next phase of its restructuring: splitting its U.S. tobacco operations from its international business.

A board decision on the separation of the tobacco businesses is expected later this year, and in the eyes of many analysts, an official acknowledgment of the move by Altria could push Altria shares higher.

"There are clearly measures we can take going forward to enhance shareholder value," said Altria Chief Executive Louis Camilleri in an interview yesterday, noting a "conglomerate discount" has affected Altria shares.

Altria has been contemplating the two-stage breakup for several years. Separating the international and U.S. parts of Philip Morris makes sense because while both Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International sell Marlboro cigarettes, they face differing regulatory landscapes and growth prospects.

BGS

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