Reynolds American Inc. and Lorillard Inc., the U.S. tobacco companies that agreed to a $25 billion merger last month, received requests for additional information on the deal from antitrust regulators.
Each company received a so-called second request from the Federal Trade Commission, according to a statement from the cigarette makers today. Reynolds and Lorillard said they would cooperate with the agency and continue to expect the transaction to be completed in the first half of next year.
Reynolds's acquisition of Lorillard, announced on July 15, would leave the 400-year-old U.S. tobacco industry with two competitors controlling 90 percent of the market. The companies attempted to soothe antitrust concerns by agreeing to sell brands such as Kool and Blu e-cigarettes for $7.1 billion to Imperial Tobacco Group Plc, a British company that's pushing deeper into the U.S. industry. Altria Group Inc. remains the market leader.
David Balto, a Washington attorney and former policy director for the FTC, said last month that the deal would face serious scrutiny. Selling off the minor brands to Imperial may not be enough, he said.