Imperial Brands pushes deeper in vaping

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Imperial Brands is racing to play catch up with its rivals with the acquisition of a UK maker of nicotine brands for e-cigarettes.

Imperial has purchased Nerudia, a manufacturer of nicotine liquids used in e-cigarettes formed in 2014 when Germany’s Contraf-Nicotex-Tobacco, the largest provider of pharmaceutical-grade nicotine to the e-cigarette industry globally teamed up with a start-up from Liverpool.

Imperial Brands – maker of Kool, Winston and Gauloises cigarettes – lags larger rivals Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco  in the nascent vaping market.  It has so far stuck to e-cigarettes that use liquid, whereas the others are also rolling out tobacco-based vaping devices.

Imperial acquired Dragonite’s e-cigarette business in 2013 to gain  access to its intellectual property before making its biggest play with the purchase of blu, then the world’s leading e-cigarette brand, the following year. It then acquired Austrian e-cigarette manufacturer Von Erl n July.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but it marks the latest acquisition of an e-cigarette business based in the North of the UK. In April, Victory Electronic Cigarettes of the US bought maker VIP of Manchester in a deal worth £30m (US$40m)  while in June it added Cheshire-based 10 Motives for £62m (US$82m).

Imperial’s bolt-on acquisition comes as it works with other stakeholders on a rescue deal for UK tobacco wholesaler Palmer & Harvey.

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