Shareholders Must Approve Switch to 'Altria'

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CHICAGO ( -- Philip Morris Cos. will change its name to Altria Group Inc., pending shareholder approval.

The company's operating units -- tobacco manufacturers Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International; beer maker Miller Brewing; and food company Kraft Foods -- will retain their names.

The name change will serve to clarify the difference between the corporate parent and its tobacco divisions, which currently share the same name.

The new moniker -- derived from the Latin root "altus," which means grown great, lofty or high -- also signifies the company's continued evolution, evidenced by recent changes such as the Nabisco acquisition and the Kraft initial public offering, said Chairman-CEO Geoffrey Bible in a statement.

Philip Morris Cos., which embarked on a corporate image campaign two years ago, registered for the domain name,, in March 2000.

Shareholders will vote on the proposed name change at the annual meeting in April.

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