Marlboro maker takes stake in cannabis firm
One of the world’s biggest tobacco companies is diving into the cannabis market with a $1.8 billion buy-in.
Marlboro maker Altria Group is taking a 45 percent stake in Cronos Group, the Canadian medical and recreational marijuana provider said Friday.
The agreement includes a warrant to acquire additional shares over the next four years that could give Richmond-based Altria 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, 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 United States 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 jumped 22 percent Friday.