Imperial Tobacco Group PLC To Float Its European Logistics Business

british american tobacco / imperial tobaccoImperial Tobacco (LSE: IMT) (NASDAQOTH: ITYBY.US) announced this morning that it intends to launch an initial public offering — IPO — of Logista, its European logistics business, on the Spanish stock market.

Logista came into being in 1999, as a spin-off from the distribution division of Tabacalera, when the Spanish tobacco monopoly merged with its French equivalent, the state-owned tobacco company SEITA, to form Altadis. In 2008, Imperial bought Altadis in a €16.2 billion deal, which made Imperial into the world’s fourth largest tobacco company.

The independent Logista spent the next nine years developing its business, expanding into Italy and Southern Europe, and becoming the largest tobacco distributor in the region. It also extended its operations into Poland, and created specialist pharmaceutical and publishing distribution businesses.

Imperial then bought Logista in 2008, delisting the company, and bringing it back within its Altadis subsidiary, but maintaining independent management of the business. Further international expansion of Logista followed, as did joint ventures. Now, in addition to its core tobacco product distribution business, Logista’s customers also include fast-moving consumer goods companies, telecom operators, lottery operators, pharmaceutical companies and publishing houses.

The offer — which is expected to be in the form of  a secondary offering by Altadis —  will only be only to certain institutional investors, and Imperial intends to retain the majority of Logista shares.

Commenting on the announcement of the flotation, Luis Egido Gálvez, Chief Executive Officer of Logista, said:

We are delighted to bring Logista back to the Spanish Stock Exchanges as the leading integrated distribution company in Southern Europe. … During the last three financial years, we have been able to maintain a solid operating performance despite the general decline in tobacco volumes and the weak economic environment in the principal markets in which we operate

“We believe we are well-positioned to benefit from economic recovery in our core markets. We continue to focus on managing costs and generating new growth opportunities to drive profitable development of the business over the long-term.

Having surged over 8% since early April, at 2,618p, Imperial’s share price is now up just over 11% on this time last year,  comfortably beating the 7% gain made by the FTSE 100.

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Jon doesn't own shares in any company mentioned in this article.