By Ezequiel Minaya
Philip Morris International Inc. is reorganizing its geographic regions and executive ranks -- including naming a new chief financial officer -- in efforts to propel the company's shift away from cigarettes.
The tobacco company has previously announced plans to focus on what it calls "smoke-free" products and less on cigarettes amid volume declines. Several major tobacco companies have sought to roll out new, electronic tobacco-heating devices that they say are healthier alternatives to traditional smoking, but feel more like puffing on a real cigarette. The firms have pursued the direction as the once-explosive growth of e-cigarettes recedes.
Finance Chief Jacek Olczak will be appointed chief operating officer, responsible for global strategy and "the delivery of results for combustible and reduced-risk products," the company announced Thursday. Mr. Olczak joined the company in 1993 and from 2009 to 2012, he served as president of Philip Morris's European Union region.
Martin King, president of Philip Morris's Asia region, will become CFO. Mr. King joined the company in 2003 from Philip Morris USA, now a subsidiary of Altria Group Inc.
The company added that it would operate in six geographic regions, up from its current four. The European Union division and the Latin America and Canada region will remain the same. The Eastern Europe region will be split off from the Middle East and Africa. The other segments will include the East Asia and Australia region, and the South and Southeast Asia region.
"The changes we are announcing today reflect our desire to best equip, empower and support our organization as we transform within a rapidly evolving environment," said Chief Executive Andre Calantzopoulos in prepared remarks, detailing about a dozen new executive assignments in all.
Philip Morris is seeking Food and Drug Administration approval for a heat-not-burn device called IQOS. In a partnership with Altria Group -- which spun off Philip Morris from it in 2008 -- the companies hope to sell IQOS under the Marlboro brand in the U.S. Philip Morris also hopes to market the product as being safer than cigarettes, a claim that must be approved by the FDA.
Philip Morris has centered much of its future strategy on its IQOS effort, opening dedicated stores in cities such as London and Tokyo to sell the device.
Shares in Philip Morris, up 22% so far this year, rose 0.3% to $111.89 in morning trading.
--Saabira Chaudhuri contributed to this article.
Write to Ezequiel Minaya at firstname.lastname@example.org