Briefing

Altria makes big bets on Canadian cannabis in search of growth

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The parent company of Marlboro cigarettes will invest $2.4 billion in Toronto-based Cronos Group, giving the Virginia-based tobacco giant a 45 per cent ownership stake in the cannabis producer. Under the agreement, Altria can invest another $1.4 billion within four year, giving it 55 per cent ownership. (Wall Street Journal)

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Talking point: The transition to cannabis—as the global legal market expands—is a natural next step for Altria, whose traditional tobacco and e-cigarette sales have been declining in step with other companies’ in the industry. In February, Alliance One International bought majority stakes in two B.C. cannabis companies: Island Garden Inc. and Goldleaf Pharm Inc. In June, Imperial Brands invested in a U.K. medical cannabis company. This latest deal is the biggest of its kind to date, but almost certainly will not be the last.