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Philip Morris International, Altria eye merger 11 years after split

By Sommer Brokaw
Philip Morris International, Altria eye merger 11 years after split
The makers of Marlboro cigarettes split in 2008 and have since focused on separate markets. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Major U.S. tobacco companies Philip Morris International and Altria, former business partners which split more than a decade ago, said Tuesday they are considering a reunion.

Both companies said they're looking for new ways to grow amid shrinking cigarette sales, and a merger would create a global powerhouse with e-cigarettes and cannabis investments. A merger would create a $200 billion-plus company.

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Persons familiar with the new talks told CNBC that PMI and Altria are considering a 59 percent to 41 percent split, respectively.

PMI confirmed talks of a "potential all-stock, merger of equals," between the companies in a statement Tuesday, but cautioned any deal would require approval from their boards, shareholders and federal regulators.

The makers of Marlboro cigarettes split in 2008. Since then, Altria has focused on the U.S. tobacco market while PMI has focused on overseas markets.

The Food and Drug Administration said last spring it authorized the marketing of PMI's new IQOS "Tobacco Heating System" -- a device that heats tobacco-filled paper sticks that may have fewer toxic chemicals than traditional cigarette smoke.

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Last year, Altria invested in e-cigarette maker Juul and cannabis company Cronos.

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