Philip Morris Proposes Name Change

NEW YORK - Philip Morris Cos. announced Thursday that it will seek shareholder approval at its annual meeting in April to change its name to Altria Group Inc. in order to distinguish the company from its tobacco business, Dow Jones reported.

Chairman and Chief Executive Geoffrey Bible said in a prepared statement, "Our parent company's new name ... should help clarify our corporate identity, making it clear to people how to refer to our tobacco companies and how to refer to the parent company."

He went on to say, "We are not the same family of companies we were just a few years ago. The Nabisco acquisition and the Kraft initial public offering are the most recent evidence of our growth and evolution."

The Philip Morris tobacco, Kraft food, and Miller beer units would keep their names under the name-change proposal, Dow Jones reported.

The company said Altria is derived from the Latin word 'altus,' which Philip Morris said, "reflects the corporation's desire for its family of companies to always 'reach higher' in striving to achieve greater financial strength and growth through operational excellence, consumer-brand expertise and a growing understanding of corporate responsibility."

The firm added the proposed name change comes "two years after a successful effort to improve the image of the Philip Morris family of companies. Research indicates that the companies are viewed as changing for the better and becoming a more responsible corporate citizen."
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