Altria and Philip Morris International end merger talks
Henrico County-based Altria Group Inc. has ended merger talks to reunite as a single company with Philip Morris International Inc.
The announcement from the companies came amid news that Juul Labs Inc. CEO Kevin Burns has stepped down from the vaping manufacturer and is being replaced by K.C. Crosthwaite, Altria Group’s former chief growth officer. Altria holds a 35% stake in San Francisco-based Juul, which has come under fire for the high rates of usage of its popular devices among teens.
“After much deliberation, the companies have agreed to focus on launching IQOS in the United States as part of their mutual interest to achieve a smoke-free future,” Philip Morris International CEO André Calantzopoulos said in a statement released Wednesday.
IQOS is a heated tobacco product that has received premarket approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In the statement, Philip Morris International noted that global data, based on four years of international sales, shows that IQOS is “not significantly appealing to youth or to nonsmokers.” IQOS has been available for sale in 48 international markets and has about 8 million users, according to the company.
A longtime Fortune 500 company listed among the S&P 500, Altria is the parent company of Richmond-based tobacco products manufacturer Philip Morris USA, best known for its Marlboro cigarettes brand. In addition to Juul Labs, Altria holds significant minority stakes in Belgian international beer brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, as well as Canadian cannabis company The Cronos Group.
Altria spun off Philip Morris International into an independent company in 2008. Based in New York, Philip Morris International is also a Fortune 500 company and manufactures Marlboro cigarettes and other tobacco products and brands for sale in more than 180 nations outside the United States.