13/03/2013 15:46:00

UPDATE: Philip Morris Long-Serving CEO to Leave Post in May

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--Long-serving CEO Louis Camilleri will step down this spring

--Second major executive change at Philip Morris in less than a year

--He will be succeeded by Chief Operating Officer Andre Calantzopoulos

(Updates with additional background, analyst commentary and fresh stock quote.)

By John Kell

Philip Morris International Inc.'s (PM) long-serving Chief Executive Louis Camilleri will step down from his post this spring, the second major executive change at the international tobacco firm in less than a year.

The maker of Marlboro and L&M cigarettes, which derives all sales from outside the U.S., said Mr. Camilleri would be succeeded by Chief Operating Officer Andre Calantzopoulos following the company's annual shareholders meeting in May.

Both executives served in their current roles since the company's 2008 spinoff from Altria Group Inc. (MO). They had led Philip Morris as a new publicly traded company for years with former Chief Financial Officer Hermann Waldemer, who last year elected to take an early retirement.

The executive changes come as Philip Morris has sought to increase exposure to emerging markets, especially in Asia where adult populations are rising. Philip Morris now derives more revenue from Asia than from the European Union, a dramatic shift from 2008 when the latter market was a greater contributor to the top line.

The company also has had success enacting price increases in many markets to lift profitability. That has helped Philip Morris raise its dividend 57% since 2008 and repurchase nearly 490 million shares, or 23.2% of the amount outstanding after the spin-off.

Mr. Camilleri joined Philip Morris in 1978 as a business development analyst at the company's European division. He served in numerous executive roles and was named as president and CEO of Kraft Foods International in late 1995. He was named CEO of Altria in 2002 and also served as Kraft's chairman from 2002 to 2007.

Analysts weren't vexed by the news of Mr. Camilleri's exit, as observers touted the company's deep bench as Philip Morris appointed another long-serving executive to succeed him. Mr. Camilleri also will remain as chairman of Philip Morris's board.

And while the timing may have caught some observers off guard, Mr. Camilleri at 58 years old is roughly the same age as top executives that left competitors Imperial Tobacco Group PLC (IMT.LN, ITYBY) and British American Tobacco PLC (BATS.LN, BTI) in recent years.

Still, Mr. Calantzopoulos, 55 years old, will face some challenges. Philip Morris already has warned of a currency headwind this year and results in the European Union have been challenged in recent quarters, particularly due to weakness in France and southern Europe.

Philip Morris is also fiercely opposed to plain-packaging laws. Such legislation already exists in Australia and there is chatter it could reach other nations, like New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Shares were down 0.5% to $90.44 in recent trading Wednesday. The stock has gained 8.3% in 2013, and shares have soared 81% since Philip Morris began to trade as a separate company in March 2008.

--Melodie Warner contributed to this article.

Write to John Kell at john.kell@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 13, 2013 11:46 ET (15:46 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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