Marlboro maker places $2.4 billion bet on marijuana

Marlboro Maker Altria Takes 45% Stake In Cronos Group

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

Altria can nominate four directors, including one independent director, to the Cronos board, giving it 4-to-3 control. Aphria gained as much as 17 percent, retracing some of its losses this week, although the stock is still poised to end the week at its lowest price since November 2017.

Pending regulatory approval, the deal is expected to close within the first half of 2019.

Cronos and other cannabis stocks have been thrust into the spotlight in the past few months following the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada in October, as well as legalized recreational and medical pot in several USA states last month.

Canadian Press People celebrate cannabis legalization in Canada. 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.

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

In the future, Altria will be able to increase its share to 55%, the Agency added.

As well, US tobacco leaf merchant Alliance One International said its subsidiary acquired a 75 per cent equity stake in Charlottetown-based Canada's Island Garden in January.

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).

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"It's really become a place where numerous leading companies that want to compete for leadership throughout the world in the cannabis business have been locating", Willard said of Canada.

Meanwhile, Molson Coors launched a joint venture called Truss with Quebec-based cannabis producer Hexo Corp.in October. Altria has agreed to buy 146.2 million shares at closing at a price of C$16.25 per share.

"Altria expects its investment to help Cronos Group accelerate its growth strategies and its R&D; and intellectual property development", according to the statement.

With the Cronos investment, Altria will get a new opportunity to boost revenue as cigarette smoking continues to decline in the United States.

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