Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM), the US tobacco giant that makes Marlboro cigarettes, has agreed to acquire inhaled medicines specialist Vectura Group PLC (LON:VEC) as part of “a natural evolution into a broader healthcare and wellness company”.
It offered 150p per share for Vectura, valuing the Chippenham-based outfit at £1bn.
PMI's bid appears to have thwarted a 136p per share offer that Vectura previously agreed with private equity firm Carlyle at the end of May, excluding the 19p special dividend paid on 11 June.
The board of the pharma company said it is withdrawing its recommendation of the Carlyle agreement and will update shareholders at a meeting on Monday.
If it becomes part of the US-based giant, Vectura will operate as an autonomous business unit focusing on inhaled products, with the opportunity to expand into new markets, PMI said.
The pair will develop a new pipeline of products in the prescription drugs and over-the-counter categories, for example within cardiovascular and pain management.
Philip Morris said it is building a portfolio that goes “beyond nicotine” planned to generate at least US$1bn revenues by 2025, having identified respiratory drug delivery as a key focus.
The cigarette maker said that its move into the pharma space is founded on “strong understanding of aerosolisation and respiratory technology” and “its promising product development pipeline”, having invested over US$8bn in nicotine-free products since 2008.
The goal is to become “predominantly smoke-free” by 2025 with more than half of its net revenues from smoke-free products, such as tobacco heater IQOS.
Shares in Vectura surged 12% to 152.52p at the opening bell, while Philip Morris was flat at US$98.80 in afterhours trading.