Altria, the multinational tobacco firm, has diversified into the cannabis sector with the acqusition of a 45% equity stake in Cronos Group for an aggregate investment of approximately USD $1.8 billion.
Altria said the deal would leave it better positioned should cannabis become federally permitted in the US.
Cronos Group is a vertically integrated cannabis company that operates the Canadian licensed producers Peace Naturals Project and Original BC, with a portfolio of brands which includes the medicinally-positioned Peace Naturals, and the recreational brands COVE and Spinach.
“Investing in Cronos Group as our exclusive partner in the emerging global cannabis category represents an exciting new growth opportunity for Altria,” said Howard Willard, Altria’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We believe that Cronos Group’s excellent management team has built capabilities necessary to compete globally, and we look forward to helping Cronos Group realize its significant growth potential”.
Announcing the deal, Altria added it believed the global cannabis sector was poised for rapid growth over the coming decade.