Altadis was approached by Imperial Tobacco and brought in Brunswick to reject its offer. But Imperial is expected to come back with a larger bid and open the door to other offers. If the £8bn-plus deal goes through it could create one of the largest UK acquisitions in the past five years.
Brunswick partner Rurik Ingram heads the account, reporting to the Altadis board.
The tobacco industry is always a potentially contentious area to work in, but is proving financially rewarding to City advisers thanks to its recent rapid consolidation.
The situation echoes this year's Corus deal, which Brunswick also advised. Then Tata Steel (advised by FD) opened bidding at 455p a share, before CSN (Maitland) moved to sabotage the deal, with Tata eventually buying for 608p a share.
Should Imperial and Altadis combine they will create a substantially larger entity, capable of challenging rivals such as Japan Tobacco International, which owns 11 per cent of the global tobacco market. Imperial owns three per cent, and
The tobacco industry has long been a fertile business ground for PR. Last year Fran Morrison, head of corporate comms at British American Tobacco, admitted his firm was still in the ‘early days' of its ‘CSR journey' and that it had some way to go to persuade its entire audience (PRWeek, 28 April 2006).
Brunswick declined to comment. BPC&F confirmed it is still retained by Imperial.