Philip Morris launches counterbid for inhaler specialist Vectura

Philip Morris International has launched a counterbid for London-listed inhaler specialist Vectura, as the tobacco company pushes to expand into healthcare.

PMI’s offer of 150p per share was 10 per cent above the price Vectura had already agreed with private equity group Carlyle. The shares, which have risen almost 9 per cent this year, closed at 135.6p on Thursday and jumped more than 12 per cent to 152.9p on Friday morning.

Vectura’s directors have withdrawn their recommendation backing the Carlyle offer and will adjourn a shareholder meeting convened for Monday, the company said in a statement.

PMI is seeking to expand beyond tobacco and nicotine into healthcare and wellness products. In February, it unveiled its plans to generate at least $1bn in annual net revenues by 2025 from what it called Beyond Nicotine products and identified respiratory drug delivery as a central focus.

Vectura is one of the few companies manufacturing devices that deliver a broad range of complex inhaled therapies.

The jostle for healthcare products has heated up recently as private equity and other groups seek to capitalise on lower valuations following the coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty over Brexit.

Buyout groups are interested in the pharma and healthcare sector because it is considered more resilient to downturns and better placed to benefit from demographic changes such as ageing populations.

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