Italy to sells its tobacco industry

The Italian government has announced plans to sell off Ente Tabacchi Italiani, the national tobacco monopoly. The company owns the MS brand of cigarettes (which holds a 30% share of the Italian market) but also has a major deal to manufacture and distribute Philip Morris brands in Italy, this includes Ferrari sponsor Marlboro. That deal is believed to last until 2005. Selling off the company is expected to raise around $1.4bn. The likely bidders for the company include British American Tobacco, Philip Morris itself and Altadis. There has also been talk of an attempt by Italians to put together a luxury consortium to keep the business in Italy. The name of Luca di Montezemolo has been linked to this idea along with Alessandro Benetton and financier Emilio Gnutti, all of whom have been involved in F1.

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