Philip Morris to Buy Rest of Mexican Unit

Philip Morris International Inc. agreed to acquire the remaining 20 percent stake in its Mexican tobacco business from billionaire Carlos Slim’s Grupo Carso SAB for about $700 million.

The deal, which the companies expect to complete by Sept. 30, will add to earnings per share in the fourth quarter, New York-based Philip Morris said today in a statement. The final purchase price will be determined by a pre-agreed formula that is subject to adjustment by the target’s performance.

Chief Executive Officer Andre Calantzopoulos, who took over from Louis Camilleri earlier this month, is developing new products and expanding in emerging markets after Philip Morris’s share of global tobacco sales rose to a record 28.8 percent last year, excluding the U.S. and China.

“The Mexican market is attractive,” Jack Russo, an analyst for Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis, said by telephone. “They can go out and acquire other businesses. While they take on debt to do that, interest rates are very low now and these businesses generate a lot of cash so they can pay off the debt quickly.”

Philip Morris fell 1.2 percent to $93.89 at 11:30 a.m. in New York. The shares have advanced 14 percent this year, compared with a 17 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Slim Partnership

The agreement ends a partnership dating back more than 30 years, Grupo Carso said in a filing to Mexico’s stock exchange. Slim has been selling off his stake in the Mexican cigarette maker for decades as he narrowed Carso’s focus to retail, industrial materials and construction. Slim sold 21.2 percent of Philip Morris Mexico in 1997 for $400 million and 30 percent in 2007 for $1.1 billion.

The Mexican unit produced 33.6 billion cigarettes last year, almost three-quarters of which were Marlboros, Carso said. The company has a market share of 53.6 percent, Carso said.

Grupo Carso rose 1.1 percent to 67.59 pesos at 10:29 a.m. in Mexico City. The shares had gained 6.8 percent this year through yesterday.

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