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m3n4.net March 21, 2019


Marlboro cigarettes' parent company delves into marijuana market

10 December 2018, 01:36 | Vera Richards

Big Tobacco Company Altria Takes Major Stake in Canadian Cannabis Firm Cronos Group

Marlboro инвестировала в выращивание конопли

Altria, owner of Marlboro cigarettes, is making a $2.4 billion (USD) investment into Canadian medical and recreational marijuana company Cronos Group.

The deal gives Altria an up to 55 per cent stake in Cronos and is the latest in a string of investments from consumer companies hoping to benefit from Canada's move to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

"Altria is the ideal partner for Cronos Group, providing the resources and expertise we need to meaningfully accelerate our strategic growth", said Cronos CEO Mike Gorenstein in a statement. The company could also be positioning itself for the possible legalization of marijuana across the U.S., Quartz added.

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In June, London-based tobacco company Imperial Brands Plc took an undisclosed stake in closely held Oxford Cannabinoid.

However, the global cannabis opportunity remains "large and untapped", said Vivien Azer, an analyst with Cowen. Federal data from November showed cigarette smoking among USA adults reached an estimated 14 per cent in 2017, the lowest level ever. The Altria-Cronos deal is "encouraging" given the broad potential uses for cannabis such as in pharmaceuticals and health and wellness products, she said in a note to clients.

"As a company that operates predominantly in the highly-regulated tobacco industry, we believe Altria has valuable regulatory and compliance experience that could end up being a key competitive advantage for Cronos, as it competes with other licensed producers for what seems to be a growing set of worldwide opportunities", Canaccord Genuity analysts wrote in a research note.

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In June, British tobacco giant Imperial Brands was among investors taking a stake in Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies, a United Kingdom-based medical cannabis startup. That is a 16.2% premium over the stock's Thursday close, according to Reuters.

The investment comes a little more than a year after Corona beer distributor Constellation Brands announced that it would invest billions of dollars in Canopy Growth Corporation (NYSE: CGC). The decision by Altria to go ahead with an investment in Cronos shows that Altria is serious about investing in marijuana as a new growth area as sales of traditional cigarettes slow.

Gorenstein said that Altria has "decades of experience in regulatory, government affairs, compliance, product development and brand management that we expect to leverage, particularly as new markets for cannabis open around the world".

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