Reynolds American and Lorillard, the No. 2 and 3 tobacco companies, confirmed in separate news releases today that they are in merger talks.
Both companies stressed that no deal is assured. Their respective releases contained nearly identical statements that "Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, [the company] does not intend to comment further on these matters."
Reynolds and Lorillard produced combined revenues of $13B last year.
Altria, the former Philip Morris spun out of Kraft 2007, is the largest tobacco company with brands like Virginia Slims and Marlboro.
Lorillard IR director Bob Bannon is point of contact for the Greensboro, N.C.-based producer of Kent cigarettes and blu e-cigarettes, among others. Attorney Ronald Milstein, an executive VP, heads legal and external affairs at Lorillard.
Maura Payne, VP of communications and David Howard, senior director of comms., speak for Reynolds, purveyor of Camel and Kool cigarettes, and Kodiak smokeless tobacco.
Neither Lorillard nor Reynolds have yet been reached about whether they are working with outside PR firms.
The UK's Imperial Tobacco Group, meanwhile, confirmed today in a "response to recent speculation" that is in discussions with Reynolds and Lorillard about acquiring certain assets and brands, the likely result if Lorillard and Reynolds combined and looked to sell brands in a nod to regulators.