Philip Morris International and Swedish Match confirmed that they are talking about a possible offer by PMI for Swedish Match.
“The discussions are in progress, and it is uncertain whether an offer will be made,” PMI wrote in a statement. “PMI intends to make no further comment regarding the discussions unless and until it is appropriate to do so.”
“There can be no certainty that an offer will be made,” Swedish Match wrote in a press note.
The statements were made in response to market speculation, first reported in The Wall Street Journal, about a possible deal.
Swedish Match has a market capitalization of SKR120.92 billion ($11.99 billion), and Philip Morris is valued at about $154 billion.
Financial analysts said a deal has strategic merit for PMI given the attractive U.S. market. The U.S. is the world’s most lucrative nicotine market, with strong and highly predictable cash flows.
Morgan Stanley said that purchasing Swedish Match could accelerate PMI’s smoke-free transition. “Swedish Match is one of the few larger scale tobacco assets with a meaningful smoke-free business and attractive growth profile,” the investment bank wrote in a note to investors. Morgan Stanley believes Swedish Match could increase PMI’s smoke-free revenue from 29 percent in 2021 to 44 percent by 2025.
PMI aims to generate about 50 percent of its revenue from smoke-free product by 2025.
Goldman Sachs, too, was enthusiastic about the opportunities presented by a possible tie-up. A deal would provide PMI access to the fast-growing and high-margin U.S. oral nicotine pouch category, in which Swedish Match’s Zyn is the market leader, with a volume share of 64 percent in fiscal 2021. Goldman Sachs expects the U.S. nicotine pouch category to reach $4 billion retail sales value by 2025.
What’s more, buying Swedish Match would provide PMI with a platform to bring its Veev vapor product to the U.S. once approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This would be beneficial because PMI’s current partner, Altria Group, is unable to distribute Veev in the U.S. due to its stake in Juul Labs.
Purchasing Swedish Match would also provide PMI with potential distribution for IQOS in the U.S. and allow it to capture the product’s full revenue and margins in the event that Altria loses the right to distribute IQOS, according to Goldman Sachs. Altria’s IQOS distribution deal expires in April 2024, but PMI and Altria currently disagree about whether Altria has thus far met the milestones to earn the renewal option for an additional five-year deal.
The U.S. currently bans IQOS imports following an intellectual property dispute with BAT.
Acquiring Swedish Match would also provide PMI with a move diversified geographic exposure, reducing the impact of swings in currency exchange rates.
While considering a potential deal positive for PMI, Goldman Sachs says it could be potentially negative for Altria as PMI could evolve from a partner to a formidable competitor on Altria’s home turf. Morgan Stanley said it would also make the long-mulled recombination of PMI and Altria less likely.