Altria, the world's largest tobacco company, wants to break its Philip Morris International unit off from its US counterpart, Bloomberg reports, to pursue greater overseas growth while insulating it from health-related US lawsuits. "Tobacco is growing overseas, while in the US it's in decline, making a reasonable argument for separating the two entities,'' says an analyst.
The move, which US regulators must approve, is expected to be final in January, and it could save the company $250 million. Altria has struggled in the face of falling US smoking rates, cheaper competitors, and the burden of a $246 billion settlement with states. Philip Morris USA will concentrate on smokeless tobacco products, such as Marlboro snuff.