Philip Morris’ ‘smoke free’ plan advances with $1.5bn deal for UK’s Vectura

Philip Morris’ ‘smoke free’ plan advances with $1.5bn deal for UK’s Vectura
Image of Philip Morris factory
Short Url
Updated 16 September 2021

Philip Morris’ ‘smoke free’ plan advances with $1.5bn deal for UK’s Vectura

Philip Morris’ ‘smoke free’ plan advances with $1.5bn deal for UK’s Vectura
  • Chief Executive said the acquisition of Vectura was a critical part of his strategy to move the company "Beyond Nicotine"
  • Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation said they have sent a letter urging the UK government to look into any conflict of interest issues

LONDON: Cigarette maker Philip Morris (PMI) clinched its £1.1 billion ($1.5 billion) takeover of asthma inhaler maker Vectura on Thursday, as part of the company’s long term plan to develop “smoke-free” products and switch to being a “broader healthcare and wellness” company.

The deal won the support of the British company’s shareholders who decided to take the 165 pence-per-share offer from PMI, with nearly 75 percent backing the deal but angered health groups such as Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation that have questioned whether a tobacco group should own a company that cures the very respiratory illnesses cigarettes cause.

PMI Chief Executive Jacek Olczak has argued that acquiring Vectura is a critical part of his strategy to move the company “Beyond Nicotine.”

He told the Telegraph last month that opponents of the deal were “not interested in progress” and accused them of “settling old scores” with the tobacco industry.

Olczak said PMI would provide Vectura’s scientists with the resources and expertise to reach its goal of generating at least $1 billion in net revenue from “Beyond Nicotine” products by 2025.

In the meantime, Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation said they have sent a letter urging the UK government to look into any conflict of interest issues.

The letter was co-signed by 35 charities, public health experts and clinicians.

“There’s now a very real risk that Vectura's deal with big tobacco will lead to the cigarette industry wielding undue influence on UK health policy,” said Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation.

PMI has received regulatory clearances for the deal and following the public tender process, its offer cannot now be withdrawn.

While the company received the 50 percent threshold to make its offer unconditional, it has not yet reached the 75 percent of shares it needs to delist Vectura.

PMI said it was extending its offer to Sept. 30, to give Vectura shareholders time to accept its proposal.


Saudi Arabia’s net foreign assets decline 3.3% in October

Saudi Arabia’s net foreign assets decline 3.3% in October
Updated 14 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s net foreign assets decline 3.3% in October

Saudi Arabia’s net foreign assets decline 3.3% in October

CAIRO: Net foreign assets held by the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) went down by a monthly rate of 3.3 percent to reach SR1.63 trillion ($433 billion) in October, according to newly released data by SAMA.


OPEC+ likely to be cautious on oil demand at upcoming meeting

OPEC+ likely to be cautious on oil demand at upcoming meeting
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 28 November 2021

OPEC+ likely to be cautious on oil demand at upcoming meeting

OPEC+ likely to be cautious on oil demand at upcoming meeting
  • Opec+ is a group consisting of both Opec and some of the world's largest non-Opec oil exporting nations

RIYADH: The OPEC+ group is likely to take a cautious stance when deciding next week whether to go ahead with planned production increases following the discovery of a new COVID-19 variant has emerged, Geneva-based oil trader Vitol Group said. 

The new variant, named Omicron, has rattled the oil market globally, pushing prices down to their biggest decline since April 2020. 

There are signs that demand may be weakening in some markets going into the winter months in Asia and Europe, said Mike Muller, the head of the Asia unit at Vitol, as reported by Bloomberg.

The new coronavirus variant will probably lead to more flight cancellations this week, he said.

Several countries have tightened travel restrictions against a number of African countries, following the discovery.

Opec+ is a group consisting of both Opec and some of the world's largest non-Opec oil exporting nations.

“OPEC+ have erred on the side of caution,” Muller said on a weekly webinar by Dubai consultancy Gulf Intelligence.

“Post facto they’ve proven to be right. It is likely they will take into account these fundamentals and the possibility of a demand hit over the winter months.”

OPEC and its partners, including Russia, will meet next week to discuss whether it will implement a planned production increase of 400,000 barrels per day.

 


Qatar’s wealth fund might acquire $7bn gas assets from UK’s National Grid: CNBC

Qatar’s wealth fund might acquire $7bn gas assets from UK’s National Grid: CNBC
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 28 November 2021

Qatar’s wealth fund might acquire $7bn gas assets from UK’s National Grid: CNBC

Qatar’s wealth fund might acquire $7bn gas assets from UK’s National Grid: CNBC
  • Goldman Sachs and Barclays are advising National Grid on the sale

RIYADH: Qatar Investment Authority (QIA),  the country’s sovereign wealth fund, may acquire assets of the UK’s National Grid, which operates electricity and natural gas transmission networks, CNBC Arabia reported, citing two unnamed sources.

QIA was part of a consortium of investors that acquired about 61 percent of the British company's gas pipeline assets five years ago.

Now the Qatari fund is competing with other global investment funds, including Macquarie and Equitix, to acquire the gas assets in an estimated $7 billion deal, the sources said. 

Goldman Sachs and Barclays are advising National Grid on the sale, the report added.

This comes amid a protracted energy crisis that has affected the UK and Europe significantly in recent months amid the disruption of global supply chains. 

The country earlier announced it reached an agreement with Qatar to secure its gas needs or 40 percent of the UK’s total energy mix. 

National Grid has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and a secondary listing in the form of its American depositary receipts on the New York Stock Exchange.


Amazon to open Abu Dhabi fulfilment centre by 2024, says govt media office

Amazon to open Abu Dhabi fulfilment centre by 2024, says govt media office
Updated 28 November 2021

Amazon to open Abu Dhabi fulfilment centre by 2024, says govt media office

Amazon to open Abu Dhabi fulfilment centre by 2024, says govt media office

 Amazon has partnered with Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) to establish a fulfilment centre by 2024 to be built in accordance with the company's carbon-reduction strategies, the Abu Dhabi government's media office said on Sunday


The project will create thousands of jobs, boosting Abu Dhabi's logistics sector and retail ecosystem and will be in line with the UAE's ambition to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the media office added.


Gulf countries to establish integrated industrial strategy: Bahraini minister

Gulf countries to establish integrated industrial strategy: Bahraini minister
Updated 28 November 2021

Gulf countries to establish integrated industrial strategy: Bahraini minister

Gulf countries to establish integrated industrial strategy: Bahraini minister

Countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are planning to set up an integrated industrial strategy, Bahraini Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Zayed Alzayani said.

This will be done by creating a unified “Gulf strategy for industry,” Asharq Al-Awsat reported, citing him.

The Gulf countries are also trying to increase dependence on each other instead of importing raw materials from abroad, which Alzayani said could create jobs, diversify economies, and expand their exporting values. 

He added the region is heading towards the formation of a customs and economic union by 2025, and the integrated industrial system will help the Gulf to stand among global conglomerates as a single bloc.

When combined, Gulf countries are the 12th largest economy globally, the minister said, adding their aim to be among the top 10 biggest economies in the world.