Imperial Tobacco has launched a £4.9bn rights issue to part fund its recent acquisition of Franco-Spanish tobacco company Altadis.

News of the rights issue came as Imperial Tobacco reported a 42% fall in pre-tax profit to £326m on sales up 39% to £2.11bn for the six months to 31 March. Cigarette volumes rose 34% to 121.1bn.

“Our strengthened cigarette portfolio and our world leadership in cigar, fine cut tobacco and papers, provides plenty of scope to grow and develop our business,” said CEO Gareth Davis. “Combined with our focus on reducing costs and effectively managing our cash, we remain very well placed to continue to deliver long term sustainable value for our shareholders.”