Imperial Shareholders Greenlight U.S. Acquisitions

LONDON — Another piece of the Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) and Lorillard Inc. merger has fallen into place with the shareholders of Imperial Tobacco Group plc approving the acquisition of several U.S. brands.

In July, London-based Imperial Tobacco announced it would acquire several brands from Winston-Salem, N.C.-based RAI and Greensboro, N.C.-based Lorillard as those two tobacco companies prepared to join forces. Under the purchase agreement, Imperial Tobacco will pay $7.1 billion for the Winston, Kool and Salem brands from RAI, and the Maverick and blu eCig brands from Lorillard, as CSNews Online previously reported.

In addition, Imperial Tobacco is acquiring Lorillard's infrastructure, which includes the company's manufacturing facility, headquarters offices, research and development facility, and approximately 2,900 employees.

These acquisitions will build on Imperial's existing U.S. portfolio at Commonwealth-Altadis, which currently accounts for a 3-percent share of the U.S. market, principally through the USA Gold brand. The deal will make Imperial Tobacco the third-largest tobacco company in the United States with a 10-percent share of the cigarette market.

Following consummation of the acquired brands and assets, the new company — to be named ITG Brands LLC — will be based at Lorillard's current headquarters at 714 Green Valley Road in Greensboro. The headquarters will be home to Lorillard employees and a number of Commonwealth-Altadis employees who will relocate from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

At a special meeting on Jan. 28, shareholders of RAI and Lorillard voted overwhelmingly in favor of the $27.4-billion merger. Final results show that more than 98 percent of voting shares voted in favor of the proposal. This represents approximately 80 percent of all outstanding shares.

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