But PM is still pushing smoke on everyone else, through its web site and elsewhere, urging smoking in the workplace, restaurants, schools (to "protect" janitors), etc. Smoking increasingly is used in movies, cartoons, and television programs, which is unlikely to be an accidental "trend."
When is PM going to let
exercise their right to breathe smoke-free air wherever they dare to
- in the workplace, shopping malls, restaurants, restrooms, schools,
EXCERPTS from The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed., June 28, 2000, writer Brian Hale in New York; headlined: Big Mo's snack attack cuts tobacco drag
... Philip Morris's Australian chairman and chief executive, Geoff Bible ... [was] making his first public appearance and giving his first press conference for years.
But the embattled Aussie executive, resplendent in crisp white shirt and pale orange patterned tie, had something positive to talk about for the first time in years: his $US18.9 billion ($31.5 billion) acquisition of Nabisco Holdings for his Kraft Foods subsidiary and his plans to spin off an estimated 10 to 15 per cent of Kraft's equity in a public share issue.
Bible appeared delighted not to have to talk about the problems and seemingly endless litigation surrounding the tobacco business that have dragged down the share price of big "Mo" (as it's known from its New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol).
[Bible] confided to the Herald that he was no longer carrying his trademark Marlboro Lights. He confessed that he "gave up smoking on the quack's advice a few months ago".
"It proved wrong," says Bible but, nevertheless, he has not gone back to smoking.
At least one analyst was prompted to ask why Mo didn't just buy the [Nabisco] holding company and get the cash.
"I've got enough tobacco litigation without buying more," said Bible, in an indirect reference to the potential liability from tobacco lawsuits that the shell will contain along with the cash.
"The combination of Kraft and Nabisco creates a real global leader in the food industry. Scale is a real advantage in this industry," Bible said.
That combination clearly sparked thoughts on Monday that Mo might be heading in the same direction as Nabisco's parent company, with a float of Kraft the first step in a process that would see Philip Morris's tobacco problems cocooned in a separate vehicle and shareholders able to realise real value for their brands and management.
Bible even confirmed that one reason for the deal was that, like Rupert Murdoch with his satellite spin-off, he wanted to get his hands on a "potential acquisition currency" - a separate class of non-tobacco-related shares for more deals so he will not have to pay cash in future - as well as stock to more directly reward executives for their efforts without the drag of tobacco.
But, he insists, the coming Kraft float "is not a forerunner to a complete spin-off of the food business". (Or the reverse: "I wouldn't sell tobacco," he says.)
"We didn't buy Kraft to spin it off or give it away," said Bible, who insists that the decision to weight Philip Morris' business more towards food is "a natural evolution", that there is no "clash of cultures" and that "we will be robust international investors in food and tobacco".