Philip Morris want to buy Protabaco

Philip Morris International Inc., seller of Matlboro online overseas, has officially ended its $452 million bid to acquire privately owned cigarette maker Productora Tabacalera de Colombia, or Protabaco, after a filing deadline with regulators in Bogota came and went.

Philip Morris said in a statement that while approval had been granted by the Superintendent of Industry and Trade of Colombia last October, further approval “ultimately proved to be too burdensome.”

Portofolio newspaper, which first reported the story Wednesday, said on its website that Philip Morris had until midnight Tuesday to meet certain conditions and file a request with anti-trust regulators to move forward with the takeover bid. Since it didn’t do so, it or another suitor that may want to buy Protabaco would have to launch a new petition altogether.

An official at the Colombian regulator’s office, who asked not be identified, said a press release on the matter is expected to be released later Wednesday.

The Altria Group Inc. spinoff’s initial takeover bid was rejected by Colombian regulators in June. They said for it to be approved Philip Morris would have to sell Protabaco’s Premier brand and another one of the company’s choice to a local or foreign competitor and offer to manufacture the brands’ cigarettes for the buyer.

The regulator was also requiring Philip Morris to keep the market open for tobacco growers and cigarette retailers.

In the wake of those conditions, Philip Morris said in October it would evaluate whether to move forward.

Protabaco is the second-largest tobacco company in Colombia. The regulator in blocking the acquisition in June said the purchase would hamper competition in the local market since Philip Morris would control almost 80% of the Colombian cigarette market.

In 2005 and 2006, Philip Morris acquired Colombia’s largest cigarette maker, Coltabaco, for a little more than $300 million.

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