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Philip Morris Not Planning To Drop Swedish Match Bid, CEO

Philip Morris International is not considering withdrawing its offer for Swedish Match despite deteriorating global economic conditions and has "options on the table" including holding a majority stake, its CEO told Reuters.

Marlboro-maker Philip Morris in May offered to buy the Stockholm-based company in a bet on the fast-growing market for cigarette alternatives.

Approval Needed 

By Swedish law, 90% of Swedish Match shareholders need to approve the offer before 21 October, but some have come out against the $16 billion - or 106 SEK per share - bid for one of the world's biggest makers of oral nicotine products.

Jacek Olczak, CEO, Philip Morris told Reuters he believes the offer is "even more attractive" now given the global macro-economic environment has changed since the original bid.

Asked if he has considered withdrawing Philip Morris' offer, Olczak said, "No - what I'm saying is that the offer which is out there -- the 106 SEK (per share) with 90% acceptance etc - is a good offer."

Swedish Match has been trading above the SEK 106 offer price since late July, suggesting investors anticipate PMI will need to make a higher offer.

Majority Shareholder

He said becoming a majority shareholder in Swedish Match was one of many options if it doesn't cross the 90% threshold.

Swedish Match controls about half the world's market for snus - a Swedish-style snuff that is moist and smoke-free, according to Euromonitor International. The company is also the global industry leader for nicotine pouches.

Earlier this month, Elliott Investment Management said that the stake it had been building in Swedish Match since PMI's offer had reached 5.25%, making it one of its largest shareholders.

The activist investor was planning on opposing the bid under its current terms, Bloomberg reported in July.

Olczak said he regularly met with investors of both companies, but declined to identify them.

"I'm just saying on a regular basis, we're talking with investors," he said.

He declined to comment on whether Philip Morris would increase its offer.

News by Reuters, edited by Donna Ahern, Checkout. For more a-brand news, click here. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.

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