Lambert & Butler maker Imperial Tobacco today said it was in talks to buy some brands from US rivals Lorillard and Reynolds.
The announcement comes amid speculation that Reynolds – which is 42 per cent owned by British American Tobacco – is closing in on a deal to acquire Lorillard.
Sources said Imperial would buy some brands from the US companies in a bid to assuage concerns by competition regulators.
A spokesman for the cigarette maker said: “The USA remains one of the world’s largest and most profitable cigarette markets. Imperial would proceed with an acquisition only if its terms met strict transaction criteria.
“There can be no certainty as to the terms upon which any acquisition or related debt financing may be agreed or whether any transaction will take place.”