Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM ), the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, is contemplating selling a stake in its largest pharmaceutical unit, Vectura. The company is exploring this move as part of its strategy to find a new partner to help operate and grow Vectura's drug manufacturing outsourcing business, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The tobacco giant is considering different options including a licensing or royalties deal, a commercial partnership, or the sale of either a majority or minority stake in Vectura. However, a spokesperson for Philip Morris declined to comment on the WSJ report.
This decision comes two years after Philip Morris acquired UK-based Vectura, which manufactures asthma inhalers, for £1.1 billion (£1 = $1.24). The acquisition was part of the company's long-term strategy to transition into a 'broader healthcare and wellness' company.
In 2021, Philip Morris also acquired Fertin Pharma, a nicotine gum manufacturer, and OtiTopic, a respiratory drug development company. These acquisitions were part of a broader plan to pivot away from cigarette sales and enter the market for inhalers and other treatments for respiratory diseases linked to cigarette smoking.
The company has been discussing various options with Deutsche Bank (ETR: DBKGn ) to expand its healthcare and wellness division. However, due to issues with the unit, Philip Morris booked a total impairment charge of $680 million (€636.8 million) for the segment in the second quarter of this year and is expected to delay its 2025 target to reach over $1 billion (€940 million) of net revenues.
Despite these obstacles, Emmanuel Babeau, Chief Financial Officer of Philip Morris, reaffirmed the company's commitment to developing its wellness healthcare segment in July. He stated that they aim "to accelerate Vectura’s growth and will be exploring potential partnerships to enhance its contract development and manufacturing organization business."
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