MANILA, Philippines - Cigarette maker Philip Morris has called for a press conference on Thursday to possibly announce a major deal.
Company officials would not disclose any details but three ABS-CBN sources said Philip Morris will announce the acquisition of a majority stake in rival and current market leader, Fortune Tobacco.
According to ABS-CBN's Business Nightly, the acquisition would be in the form of a merger.
Fortune Tobacco is owned by Lucio Tan, one of the richest men in the Philippines, according to Forbes magazine.
Over the years, Fortune's near monopoly of the cigarette industry has dwindled to a market share of less than 60%.
On the other hand, Philip Morris has steadily carved a bigger market share through aggressive marketing campaigns and expansion of distribution reach. The multinational firm has an estimated market share of 30%.
The Philippines is one of the remaining cigarette markets in the world dominated by a local firm. This will be reversed if the deal between Tan's cigarette unit and the multinational firm pushes through.
Filipinos smoke around 80 million cigarette sticks a day.