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UNITED KINDGOM

Imperial to sell 2 bln in assets

14 May 2018. Imperial Brands said it will divest parts of its business valuing up to GBP 2 billion (EUR 2.27 billion) over the next 12-24 months as part of a strategy to focus on growth opportunities and investment in Next Generation tobacco Products (NGP), the company said in its interim results for the six month period ended 31 March.

Chairman Mark Williamson said capital allocation is central to Imperial’s strategy of focusing on growth potential in the company’s tobacco and NGP businesses. He commented that Imperial is already pursuing a number of divestment opportunities to free up capital.

Investing in further development of its NGP portfolio, Imperial said it is targeting “significant growth” in NGPs. The cigarette and vapour product maker said it is investing in developing a new advanced tank system for its blu ACE open system vapour platform, it will be launching nicotine salt pods and will be entering second stage consumer trials of a heated tobacco product in the coming months. Imperial said it will be expanding on the list of five markets where its myblue vapour platform is currently available, the current markets being the US, UK, France, Germany and Russia.

Imperial shipped 123.6 billion sticks in the six-month period, down 2.1 per cent on the 126.3 billion sticks it shipped in the first half of 2017. Net revenue from tobacco was GBP 3.531 billion, down 5 per cent on the comparable period in 2017, while adjusted operating from tobacco, at GBP 1.533 billion, was down 8 per cent.

Net revenue from the company’s growth brands, such as Davidoff, Gauloises, JPS and Winston, was up 3.7 per cent, at GBP1.732 billion. Imperial said its growth and specialist brands accounted for 65.2 per cent of its net revenues from tobacco in the six month period.

Chief Executive Alison Cooper stated, “As we sharpen our focus on the brands, products and markets that are central to our strategy, we are progressing opportunities for divestments, initially targeting proceeds of up to GBP 2 billion within the next 12-24 months. This will further simplify the business, enhance performance and release capital to pay down debt, deliver returns to our shareholders and, where appropriate, invest in our growth agenda.”