SOURCE: Altadis

December 18, 2007 09:32 ET

ALTADIS : The majority of Altadis shareholders approve the abolition of voting rights limits

MADRID, SPAIN--(Marketwire - December 18, 2007) - Madrid, 18th of December 2007

The extraordinary Altadis Shareholders' Meeting, which took place today in Madrid, has approved, by a majority vote, the proposal to modify article 24 of the company Bylaws (regarding the Right to Vote) by removing the limit of the votes that each Altadis shareholder can place during the General Meeting. This proposal, which has already been backed by the Board of Directors, was approved by 89,2% of the shareholders that were present or represented at the meeting..

This modification was one of the requirements that had to be met as specified in the Altadis takeover bid launched by Imperial Tobacco Group, whose period of acceptance will end by the 11th of January 2008. The decision made by the Board will be recorded in the Registry of Companies of Madrid over the next few days.

The shareholders attending the meeting represented 83,4% of the company's shares. During his presentation, the Chairman of the Board, Jean-Dominique Comolli, highlighted that generating value for shareholders has been the Altadis Group's primary objective ever since it was first set up. He described the high return to shareholders since then as "spectacular". He explained that this return was a result of the Company's ongoing remuneration policy, which is based on two main tenets: a regular dividend increase of more than 10% per year and a share buy-back and amortisation programme.

Jean-Dominique Comolli also referred to the takeover bid launched by the Imperial Tobacco Group, stating that during this process Altadis has acted with integrity. He said that they had, "Adhered to the highest possible standards of good governance. In other words: without blocking any options, with total neutrality, favouring a competitive process, providing information for shareholders so that they may form an opinion, and with absolute unity of opinion between the Board and the company Management."

During his speech, Antonio Vázquez, Chairman of the Executive Committee and the Group's Chief Executive Officer, highlighted the development of Altadis over the last few years, pointing out that it has become a leading company in the world-wide cigar market, is the leading European company in the tobacco-distribution sector, and is one of the most important European companies in the cigarette market. He emphasised that, "This, in numbers, means more than 27,600 employees worldwide, an Ebitda of around 1,200 million euros and a stock value of more than 12,500 million euros, practically tripling its value since 1999," which was the year of the merge between Tabacalera and Seita.

Vázquez also stressed that,"The Company's share price has increased from EUR 14.20 per share at the end of 1999 to EUR 50 per share as offered by Imperial Tobacco, with an average annual appreciation of more than 17%, in addition to the return received by shareholders through one of the sector's most generous dividend policies."

Antonio Vázquez stated that, despite the difficulties the company has faced due to a series of tax increases and the uncertainty that comes with corporate changes "The way in which the Company has been managed has meant that the basic tenets of Altadis have continued to be very solid." He rounded off his speech by highlighting that, "Under these circumstances, there is clear evidence of a great sense of responsibility and of the equanimity that comes when a duty has been fulfilled." He concluded by acknowledging and thanking Altadis' employees and managers.

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