Michael Miles, who was unexpectedly promoted to the post from the group's Kraft General Foods division three years ago, said simply that it was time a tobacco executive led the company again.
The company's cigarette-making operation has been under siege since he took office - from discount brands, government regulators and liability lawsuits - and he had lost the confidence of the Philip Morris board. At the directors' meeting last month, Mr Miles championed a controversial proposal to demerge Philip Morris's food and tobacco arms, responding to shareholder complaints about the group's sliding share price.
The board decided against taking action on the plan, which was opposed by tobacco executives and by Mr Miles's predecessor, Hamish Maxwell, who remains a director.
The board instead took the unusual move of appointing two vice- chairmen, William Murray and Geoffrey Bible, both senior tobacco division executives. Mr Murray has now been named chairman and Mr Bible president and chief executive officer.
The company insisted yesterday Mr Miles' resignation had nothing to do with the failed demerger plan and was unrelated to 'Marlboro Friday' in April 1993, when the company slashed the price of its best- selling premium cigarette brand.
Philip Morris shares traded off dollars 1 4 at dollars 501 8 .Reuse content