The American tobacco giant Philip Morris announced Thursday that it had taken control of the British manufacturer of medical inhalers Vectura after having managed to acquire nearly 75% of its capital, during a disputed stock market takeover.
In a press release, Philip Morris International said it had received “all the required authorizations” on Tuesday and that it has now acquired or received shares representing approximately 74.77% of Vectura.
“We have reached an important point in our acquisition of Vectura” which should “play a key role in our Beyond nicotine strategy” (“beyond nicotine”), comments Jacek Olczak, Managing Director of Philip Morris International.
He recalls that the group is targeting at least $ 1 billion (0.92 billion francs) in revenue from these products by 2025.
The takeover bid runs on all of the floating capital and until September 30, and the tobacco giant urges shareholders who have not already done so to bring their shares to the buyout operation.
The offer of the American accepted by the board of directors of Vectura values the latter 1 billion pounds.
Philip Morris announced in July his plan to take over the British in order to continue its development outside tobacco, which is in sharp decline, with a focus on health and well-being.
However, this takeover arouses the annoyance and concern of associations and health professionals in the United Kingdom, even though Vectura’s inhalers are intended in particular to treat diseases linked to smoking.
Sarah Woolnough, director of the NGO Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation on Thursday lambasted Vectura for having “given priority to short-term financial gains over its long-term viability”.
“Vectura is now owned by a tobacco group and that could lead to a lot of problems, such as the fact that the company is now excluded from clinical and research networks,” she argues.
“It also creates perverse incentives for Philip Morris International to sell more of its dangerous products in order to then profit from them through treatments for smoking-related illnesses,” continued Ms. Woolnough, who also warns of the risk that “the tobacco majors now have an influence they shouldn’t have on British health policies”.
Vectura is also developing, with the British biotech Inspira, an inhalation treatment against Covid-19.
ats, awp, afp