BRADENTON, Fla. - Some state attorneys general are hailing settlements with major tobacco companies that resolve a dispute over $8 billion in payments since 2003, but a bond expert said his evaluation of the deal indicates that the tobacco companies may be the big winners.

Lorillard Tobacco Co., Philip Morris USA, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., announced an agreement Dec. 18 on a term sheet with 17 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. An arbitration panel still must approve the deal, and amounts each entity gets could be adjusted if other states participate.

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