MARLBORO MAKER JOINS POT INDUSTRY
YORK» One of the world’s NEW biggest tobacco companies is diving into the cannabis market with a $1.8 billion buy-in.
Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc. is taking a 45 percent stake in Cronos Group, the Canadian medical and recreational marijuana provider announced Friday.
The agreement includes a warrant to acquire additional shares over the next four years that could give the Altria Group, which is based in Richmond, Va., a 55 percent ownership stake in the Toronto company. That would mean Altria’s investment would be in the same league as the $4 billion spent earlier this year by Constellation Brands to acquire shares of Canopy Growth Corp., another Canadian pot producer.
The August investment by Constellation, which makes Corona and other beverages, was the largest to date by a major U.S. corporation in the cannabis market.
Whatever hesitation larger corporations in the U.S. had about entering the cannabis market appears to be fading if there is a financial justification.
Altria’s huge investment lit up shares of cannabis companies that have begun to set up shop in Canada — where recreational use was legalized this year. U.S. traded shares of Cronos Group Inc. jumped 22 percent.