Directors at UK inhaler company Vectura have recommended shareholders accept a $1.4 billion bid from tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PMI).
The Marlboro cigarette maker’s offer of $2.3 per share beat a rival bid from US private equity group Carlyle, whose final offer was $2.1 per share.
Vectura makes inhaled medicines and devices to treat respiratory illnesses such as asthma.
Dozens of health groups had urged Vectura to reject the firm’s offer.
The health groups warned that the deal would significantly harm the future prospects of the healthcare company, as it will deter top lung researchers and scientists unwilling to work for a tobacco company.
Shares in Vectura, which counts Novartis and GSK among its customers, have soared 33% in value since Carlyle’s first offer in May.
Philip Morris recently said it could stop selling cigarettes in the UK in 10 years’ time as it focuses on alternatives, such as heated tobacco.
The firm indicated it would welcome a government ban on cigarettes and said “strong regulation” was needed to “help solve the problem of cigarette smoking once and for all”.
However, health charity Ash said it was hard to take such claims seriously from the firm responsible for selling over a tenth of cigarettes globally.