Giants vying for Tekel

LONDON – British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris are likely to be among the world’s six top tobacco firms preparing to bid for the cigarette arm of Turkey’s Tekel, the Financial Times reported yesterday. The newspaper named Japan Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Altadis and the Korean Tobacco and Ginseng Company as the other groups expected to make offers for the state-owned business by Sept. 26, the deadline for bids. The paper quoted bankers as saying that the bidding for the business, which has a 61-percent market share in Turkey, could fetch up to $4 billion given that the country has a large and fast growing cigarette market. The Turkish government plans to sell Tekel’s tobacco arm and its alcohol subsidiary, which makes the Turkish Raki aniseed drink, separately to attract interest from investors. Japan Tobacco, which is the third-biggest tobacco company in Turkey and operates a plant in the country, said last month it may join the bidding for Tekel’s tobacco business. The newspaper said BAT had confirmed that it was participating in the preliminary process. BAT and the others were not immediately available for comment. (Reuters)