The battle between the owner of Marlboro cigarettes and a private equity group for control of the UK inhaler maker Vectura intensified on Sunday as Philip Morris International raised its bid to more than £1 billion.

PMI’s offer of 165p a share came just two days after Carlyle, the US private equity group, raised its own bid for Wiltshire-based Vectura to 155p a share.

That offer won the backing of Vectura’s board and a group of investors that owns 11.2 per cent of Vectura’s equity, including Axa Investment Managers. The PMI offer values Vectura’s equity at £1.02 billion, compared with Carlyle’s £928 million.

Carlyle had said on Friday, as it made its 155p bid, that Vectura’s directors were aware of “reported uncertainties relating to the impact on Vectura’s wider stakeholders arising as a result of the possibility of the company being owned by PMI”.

PMI’s efforts to acquire Vectura, which develops medicines and devices to help with breathing problems, have been met with criticism from anti-smoking campaigners.

Read more/Source: THE IRISH TIMES