* Up as much as 9 pct on talk of Philip Morris interest
* No comment from either company
(Recasts lead, adds no comment from Philip Morris)
STOCKHOLM, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Shares in tobacco products maker Swedish Match SWMA.ST jumped on Friday on market talk of bid interest from Marlboro maker Philip Morris PM.N. Neither company would comment.
Swedish Match shares closed up nearly 4 percent, after being ahead 9 percent at one point, following what traders said were rumours of an acquisition by the U.S.-based tobacco firm at 182 Swedish crowns ($26.25) per share.
Shares in Philip Morris, the world’s biggest cigarette maker, were up 1.25 percent at $51.01 at 1630 GMT.
“These rumours have come up from time to time,” said an analyst in Stockholm. “Swedish Match is a strategic asset in the tobacco sector, but there isn’t that much more to add. Given the consolidation in the tobacco industry and given the size (of Swedish Match) you wouldn’t rule it out.”
Another analyst said the fact that Philip Morris had already picked up Swedish assets in South Africa spoke against such a deal.
“But on the other hand it makes sense since they already have a joint venture to market smokeless products outside Scandinavia and the U.S.,” the analyst said. “So it could make sense if they want to get full control of the smokeless category in Scandinavia and the U.S.”
“We have no comment,” said Swedish Match spokesman Henrik Brehmer. “This kind of rumour arises now and then but it is our policy not to comment on rumours.”
A spokesman for Philip Morris also declined to comment. (Reporting by Oskar von Bahr, Jens Hansegard and Veronica Ek in Stockholm, Blaise Robinson in Paris, and Bradley Dorfman in Chicago; writing by Niklas Pollard; Editing by David Cowell)
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