Anti-trust concerns aside, the rationale behind the potential tie-up is, at least partly, not even about cigarettes. At the moment, Reynolds has only just started rolling out its vapor product, Vuse, nationwide, after trying it out in Colorado. Lorillard, meanwhile, is the market leader, with its blu brand capturing  a 50% share of e-cig sales from convenience stores and gas stations in the US, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall).

Reynolds has a rich history of being involved in eye-catching deals. One of its subsidiaries, RJ Reynolds Tobacco, merged with Nabisco in 1985 and  the combined company, RJR Nabisco, was then acquired by the buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in 1988, after one the biggest and most bitter corporate takeover struggles of all time, immortalized in the legendary book Barbarians at the Gates.

If regulators have consumers’ real best interests at heart, this latest deal should be a lot more straightforward.

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