Altria Gets 35% Stake in Juul

The protracted negotiations between “Big Tobacco” company Altria and Juul Labs finally came to an end with both companies announcing that Altria had injected $12.8 billion in Juul Labs in exchange for a 35 percent stake in the electronic cigarette maker. Insiders privy to the details of the deal say that Altria is contractually bound not to sell its stake or acquire more shares for at least six years from the date when the deal was signed. The partnership with Altria marks a huge turnaround for Juul since it had positioned itself as being opposed to Big Tobacco. However, Juul’s recent issues with regulators and legislators may have convinced it to sign the deal so that Altria can deploy its lobbying and financial muscle to help deal with the authorities breathing down Juul’s neck. Altria also brings superior distribution and retail systems to the deal, while the tobacco giant will get a slice of the massive sales made by Juul (75 percent of the entire e-cig market in the US). One can only hope that this “marriage” won’t result in the total takeover of the vaping industry by Big Tobacco and its ills.