With UST Integration Progressing Smoothly, Altria Announces Departure of Vice Chair Murray Kessler
Altria Group, Inc. (Altria) today announced that Murray S. Kessler, Vice Chair of Altria and President and Chief Executive Officer of UST LLC (UST), will leave the company at the end of June, having overseen the completion of the key elements of UST’s integration into Altria. Following Altria’s acquisition of UST, Mr. Kessler agreed to stay on to oversee the integration and help complete the transition.
Since closing the transaction in January, Altria has successfully completed several important integration milestones, including:
* Identifying an additional $50 million in integration cost savings, taking Altria’s estimated integration cost savings target to $300 million;
* Consolidating the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Brands and Philip Morris USA (PM USA) sales forces into a new entity, the Altria Sales & Distribution Inc., which now services all of Altria’s tobacco businesses with an organization approximately the same size as PM USA’s sales force prior to the acquisition; and
* Relocating the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company’s (USSTC) headquarters to Richmond, Virginia.
“Thanks to Murray’s leadership, the integration of UST and its subsidiaries into the Altria family of companies has gone smoothly,” said Michael E. Szymanczyk, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Altria, “and we remain on-track to deliver an estimated $300 million in integration cost savings by 2011. We thank Murray for his efforts and wish him well in the future.”
“The UST integration has gone exceptionally well thanks to a tremendous team effort by all involved,” said Mr. Kessler. “I am confident that USSTC and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates are in great hands and have a bright future.”
Upon Mr. Kessler’s departure, Dan Butler, President of USSTC, will report to Craig Johnson, Executive Vice President, Altria, who will continue to lead PM USA as its President and also will provide oversight to Altria’s other tobacco operating companies and the newly created sales and distribution and consumer engagement companies.
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