Altria's Split: Where There's Smoke…

A Switzerland-based Philip Morris International will make it easier to pursue the hordes of smokers in lightly regulated global markets
Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

On Jan. 30, Louis Camilleri, chairman and chief executive of Altria Group (MO), is expected to lay out formal plans to split the tobacco giant's U.S. and foreign operations into two companies. It's classic spinoff logic: Altria will separate its slow-growth, big-dividend domestic tobacco business from its faster-growing international unit. Philip Morris International will be based in Switzerland, while the domestic Altria will close its New York headquarters and move to Richmond, Va. Both companies' shares are expected to trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Once the deal is official, the relevant question for both companies will remain the same: How can they keep growing in a world that increasingly frowns on its signature product?

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