Marlboro cigarette maker Philip Morris confirms majority of inhaler firm shareholders agree to takeover

Marlboro cigarette maker Philip Morris International (PMI) has confirmed its bid for inhaler maker Vectura has become unconditional.

PMI revealed it now has support from investors representing 74% of Vectura shareholders - above the 50% threshold for the deal to go through - and is urging the remaining shareholders to accept the deal.

The company said: "All remaining conditions to the offer have been satisfied or, where applicable, waived.

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"Accordingly... the offer has become unconditional in all respects."

Marlboro cigarette maker Philip Morris confirms majority of inhaler firm shareholders agree to takeover

Jacek Olczak, PMI's chief executive, said: "We have reached an important milestone in our acquisition of Vectura and are pleased to have secured over 74% of the company's shares, in excess of the 50% required to make our offer unconditional and PMI the majority shareholder.

The board of inhaler maker Vectura had previously unanimously recommended shareholders approve the £1.1 billion takeover by PMI.

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Following the recommendation, PMI started buying shares on the open market, securing a stake of 29.9%.

Remaining shareholders were asked to approve the deal and sell their shares in principle. For the deal to complete, 50% needed to agree and the threshold has now been reached.

It makes the deal all but certain.

The deal has faced controversy, with smoking charities and medical groups warning the board against selling up to a cigarette business.

Future research for the firm could also be hit, with several universities having rules that block them from taking funding from cigarette businesses and their subsidiaries.

Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said: "Vectura has sold out millions of people with lung disease, and instead prioritised short-term financial gain over the long-term viability of Vectura as a business.

"Vectura is now owned by a tobacco company, and this could cause considerable problems, such as the firm being excluded from research and clinical networks.

"It creates perverse incentives for Philip Morris International to sell more of its harmful products so they might then profit again through treating smoking-related diseases.

"There's now a very real risk that Vectura's deal with big tobacco will lead to the cigarette industry wielding undue influence on UK health policy.

"We call on the Government to stand by its commitment to the World Health Organisation framework convention on tobacco control to prevent this happening."

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