Two giants Investment Funds said they were getting rid of the multi-million pound stake in Vectura following the takeover of the healthcare company by Philip Morris International.
In a firm statement, Axa Investment Managers said it was selling its entire 3.9% stake, worth around £ 44million, citing unease over the ethics of the transaction.
The French fund, which manages more than £ 750 billion, had publicly backed a competing bid for healthcare company FTSE 250 from US private equity group Carlyle.
Legal & General Investment Managers also said it was offering its 3.7% stake, valued at £ 40million, after spending “considerable time examining competing ESG and financial factors” surrounding the acquisition of the manufacturer. of Marlboro cigarettes.
PMI announced yesterday that it has effectively taken control of Vectura, which manufactures products used in the treatment of respiratory illnesses caused by smoking, after a controversial £ 1.1 billion bidding war.
He now controls just under 75% of the shares, having bought a 29% stake in the open market and received acceptances from 45.6% from investors.
The latest sales, once processed, should take its stake above the 75% threshold needed to remove its target.
If PMI obtains more than 90% of the acceptances, then it can “oust” the remaining minority shareholders.
PMI boss Jacek Olczak said the acquisition was a major step in its transition to diversifying from tobacco to health and wellness products.
Axa today joined with critics, including leading medical charities, in finding the alliance “uncomfortable.”
He said: “We fully understand the need for companies like PMI to find ways to move away from their highly polluting and harmful products, however, we were uncomfortable with the ethics behind buying them. ‘a manufacturer of inhalers by a tobacco group. “
LGIM, one of the UK’s largest asset managers, said: “During this very sensitive process, we came to the conclusion that selling our shares was the optimal outcome for our clients, our clients. investors and the future of both companies.
“LGIM has consistently engaged with PMI to encourage the company to diversify its interests away from tobacco.
“We will continue to monitor, engage and hold PMI’s board of directors to account.”