UST Chief to Leave Altria

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UST Chief to Leave Altria

RICHMOND, Va. -- Altria Group Inc.'s vice chair and president and CEO of smokeless tobacco company UST LLC, Murray S. Kessler, will leave the company at the end of June.

His departure follows his oversight of the completion of key elements in UST’s integration into Altria, which completed the acquisition earlier this year. Following Altria’s acquisition of UST, Kessler agreed to stay at Altria to oversee the integration and help complete the transition.

"Thanks to Murray’s leadership, the integration of UST and its subsidiaries into the Altria family of companies has gone smoothly," Michael E. Szymanczyk, chairman and CEO of Altria, said in a statement. "We remain on-track to deliver an estimated $300 million in integration cost savings by 2011. We thank Murray for his efforts and wish him well in the future."

As a result of Kessler's departure, Dan Butler, president of USSTC, will report to Craig Johnson, executive vice president, Altria, who will lead PM USA as its president, and provide oversight to Altria’s other tobacco operating companies, as well as the newly created sales and distribution and consumer engagement companies, the company stated.

"The UST integration has gone exceptionally well thanks to a tremendous team effort by all involved," Kessler said in a statement. "I am confident that USSTC and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates are in great hands and have a bright future."

Since closing the UST transaction in January, Altria successfully completed several integration milestones, including:

-- Identifying an additional $50 million in integration cost savings;
-- Consolidating the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Brands and PM USA sales forces into a new entity, Altria Sales & Distribution Inc., which services all of Altria’s tobacco businesses;
-- Relocating the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company’s (USSTC) headquarters to Richmond, Virginia.

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