Looks like the Marlboro Man is making more inroads in the land of llaneros. On Friday, Philip Morris International ( PM) said it struck a deal to buy Protabaco, the second biggest tobacco operation in Colombia with just over 30% of market share. Philip Morris International, which was spun-off from Virginia-based Altria ( MO) back in 2008, also said in a press release today that the privately-owned Protabaco reported $107.6 million in sales for 2008 on a volume of 6.1 billion cigarettes. Mustang, Premier and President are included in Protabaco's staple of brands. The deal, valued at $452 million, will add a bit to Philip Morris International's earnings and will likely close sometime in the next six months. It will also further build on both Philip Morris International's 15.6% overseas market share presence, as well as its portfolio in Colombia. Philip Morris International bought Coltabaco, another Colombian cigarette concern, back in 2005 for around $300 million. "This strategically compelling transaction will provide Philip Morris with an excellent opportunity to further develop Protabaco's strong brand portfolio and reflects the continuing confidence we have in the future of Colombia, its economy and the tobacco industry," Miroslaw Zienlinski, President of PMI's Latin America and Canada Region, said in a release. In its first quarter earnings release back in April, Philip Morris International said it was able to increase cigarette shipments to its Latin America & Canada segment by 4.4% from the year-ago period, marking the largest increase in any international region. But the robust jump was due largely to a Canadian acquisition.
Excluding volumes from that acquisition showed that shipments actually decreased in the regions because of lower shipments in Colombia and Mexico. Last week, Philip Morris International also said it was buying up the South African unit of Swedish Match for about $222 million. Philip Morris International shares were up 2.1% just after the opening bell.