June 8, 2015 / 4:06 PM / 4 years ago

Reynolds-Lorillard merger clears final hurdle, judge okays brand transfer

WASHINGTON, June 8 (Reuters) - Reynolds American Inc on Monday cleared the final hurdle for its roughly $27.4 billion purchase of smaller rival Lorillard Inc as a federal judge approved its request to sell several cigarette brands.

The companies expect to close on June 12, they said in a press release.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in Washington, D.C. granted an unopposed motion allowing the transfer of the Kool, Maverick, Salem and Winston brands to Imperial Tobacco Group Plc .

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission approved Reynolds’ purchase of Lorillard, which would combine the second- and third-largest U.S. tobacco companies, if they divested the four cigarette brands.

Imperial is the fourth-largest tobacco company globally.

Kessler authorized the transfer after being assured by tobacco companies that it would not affect television spots they air to correct previous deceptive advertisements.

The judge is overseeing an unrelated case brought by the United States in 1999 that accused cigarette companies of being deceptive in marketing about the risks of cigarette smoking.

Reynolds, which makes Camel and Pall Mall, said in July 2014 it would buy Lorillard, which makes Newport. Altria Group , which produces Marlboro cigarettes, remains the U.S. market leader.

The case is U.S. v. Philip Morris USA Inc et al, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, No. 99-02496. (Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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