Imperial Propelled to Top of E-cigarettes Tree With Surprise Acquisition of blu in Reynolds/Lorillard Divesture
It’s not often that the tobacco industry is caught on the hop, especially with a deal that’s been on the radar for the better part of half a year, but it was gasps all around on the 15th July when it was announced that the expected Reynolds American (RAI)/Lorillard (LO) merger would result in Imperial Tobacco (IMP) acquiring not only the cigarettes brands Winston, KOOL, Salem, Maverick, but also LO’s leading e-cigarettes brand blu, which the industry assumed was part of LO’s attraction for RAI in the first place. The acquisitions propel IMP from bit-player on the US cigarettes market to number three player and, more unexpectedly, from litigious outsider in the e-cigarettes market to number one player. And not number one player in any old market, but in the world’s largest e-cigarettes market, worth US$1.7 billion in 2014. What does this mean for IMP and for the vapour industry? Who are now the main tobacco players in this US$6billion global market and what are their vapour brands?