Imperial Tobacco says it expects to meet full-year forecasts


AP LONDON: Imperial Tobacco Group PLC, the maker of Davidoff Cigarettes, said Wednesday it expects to meet forecasts for the full year and believes the...

LONDON: Imperial Tobacco Group PLC, the maker of Davidoff Cigarettes, said Wednesday it expects to meet forecasts for the full year and believes the Spanish regulator will approve its offer for Altadis SA in the next few weeks.
Imperial, which also makes Golden Virginia loose tobacco and Rizla rolling papers, has offeRed €12.6 billion (US$17.4 billion) for Altadis, the maker of Gauloises, Gitanes and Ducados Cigarettes and Montecristo and Don Diego cigars.
"We await approval of our offer document from the CNMV, the Spanish regulator, which is expected in the next few weeks," Imperial said in a statement, adding that the acceptance period will start after the approval is received.
The European tobacco industry has been consolidating recently, with multinationals buying each other to obtain economies of scale as cigarette sales decline in Western European markets amid smoking bans.
"Bans on smoking in public places have been introduced in Wales, Northern Ireland and England during the past six months," Imperial said. "As anticipated, these have resulted in an initial decline in cigarette market volumes. We expect this impact to diminish over time."
In the U.K., the company said it boosted its market share and boosted profitability with pricing improvements and cost savings. It also said the six-month contribution from U.S.-based Commonwealth Brands, which it bought earlier this year for US$1.9 billion (€1.4 billion), helped improve the overall operating margin.
"We have continued to grow our cigarette volumes and margin in the second half with particularly strong performances from our key brands Davidoff, West and JPS," the company said.
Imperial Tobacco shares gained 0.1 percent to 2,212 pence (US$44.14; €31.81) on the London Stock Exchange.

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