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Imperial Tobacco, CVC Mull Bids For Altadis

Altadis Chief Executive Antonio Vazquez said Thursday that prospective bidders for the tobacco company have finished their due diligence.

Both British tobacco maker Imperial Tobacco Group and private equity firm CVC Capital Partners have made preliminary offers for the manufacturer of Fortuna and Gitanes and asked for further information to prepare binding offers.

Earlier Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the CVC and Imperial Tobacco offers may be filed "within days."

"We have provided (the bidders) with all the information required," said Altadis Chairman Jean-Dominique Comolli. "We have tried to build a level playing field."

Altadis shares closed up 0.8% at 49.29 euros ($66.24) in Madrid.

Executives of the Spanish-French tobacco company spoke at a press conference ahead of the company's annual meeting.

Imperial approached Altadis in March with a bid of 45 euros ($60.47) a share, which Altadis turned down. The British company was again rebuffed when it returned with a higher bid of 47 euros ($63.16) a share in April -- an offer that valued Altadis at 12.03 billion euros ($16.17 billion).

In May, a group formed by CVC made a rival offer of 12.8 billion euros ($17.2 billion), or 50 euros ($67.19) a share.

Altadis is also the world's leading cigar distributor through its joint venture with the Cuban state-owned cigar company, Habanos.

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