Philip Morris buying stake in Megapolis for $750M



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NEW YORK (AP) - Philip Morris is buying a 20 percent stake in Megapolis Distribution BV, the holding company for its Russian cigarette distributor, for $750 million.

Megapolis focuses mostly on the distribution of tobacco and beverages. It handles about 70 percent of the cigarettes sold in Russia through distribution agreements with Philip Morris, Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Tobacco Group.

The agreement also includes an additional payment of up to $100 million based on Megapolis' operational performance over the four fiscal years after the deal's closing.

"This investment paves the way for infrastructure expansion and improved operating efficiencies in the strategic area of distribution in Russia, and will therefore benefit our wide portfolio of leading brands," Miroslaw Zielinski, Philip Morris' president of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa region and PMI Duty Free, said in a statement.

Philip Morris International Inc., which sells Marlboro and other cigarette brands overseas, said Wednesday that it expects the transaction to add to its earnings per share as of 2014's first quarter.

The deal is targeted to close by year's end.

Philip Morris International shares finished at $85.76 per share on Tuesday. Its shares are up 2 percent so far this year.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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