Imperial Sells Premium Cigar Business

Imperial Brands PLC (“Imperial”), represented in Malta and Gozo by our partners NMArrigo, has announced the agreed sale of its worldwide premium cigar businesses (“Premium Cigars”) to investment consortia of individual investors in two distinct transactions.The disposal reinforces Imperial’s focus on simplifying its business and realising value for shareholders.

The maker of SuperKings and Davidoff cigarettes, and Golden Virginia and Drun hand rolling tobacco, said that Allied Cigar Corporation, an investment consortium, had agreed to buy the international business of Premium Cigar, which includes 50 per cent of Cuba’s official exporter Corporación Habanos.

Another consortium, Gemstone Investment Holding, has agreed to buy the US division for £162m. Both transactions are subject to regulatory clearances.

Imperial said it would not disclose further details about the “individual investors” behind the bids, with one person close to the sale process saying they wished to remain “private and anonymous”.

In February, Imperial appointed Stefan Bomhard, previous head of car dealership Inchcape, as chief executive to replace Alison Cooper, who stepped down after nine years at the helm of the company.
Imperial’s focus will now be on improving the company’s market share in the growing market for e-cigarettes (vaping), such as Imperial’s Blu device.

Joint Interim Chief Executives Dominic Brisby and Joerg Biebernick said: “We are delighted to be able to announce the sale of Premium Cigars in the current challenging global environment. It has been a complex transaction involving joint venture partners and assets across multiple geographies and we would like to thank everyone involved for working so hard to get the deal agreed”, including the “strategic ambition of becoming a leaner and more agile organisation”

Imperial believe they have found the right long-term owners for Premium Cigars; who are committed to investing in the business to maximise future growth opportunities and are well positioned to further develop operations internationally; thought there is some speculation that the sale was forced by the current economic situation where the growth in premium cigars such as those offered by Habanos, has faced a downturn in sales especially with high-end consumers in China.

The sale will take place in two transactions documented under two sale agreements: one for the USA business (“Premium Cigar USA”); and another for the Rest of the World business (“Premium Cigar RoW”).

In respect of the transactions:

Gemstone Investment Holding Ltd will acquire Premium Cigar USA.

Allied Cigar Corporation, S.L will acquire Premium Cigar RoW.

The Premium Cigar RoW transaction includes the sale of the Dominican Republic handmade premium cigar factory which is expected to close in 2021.

Background on Premium Cigars

The business comprises assets purchased as part of Imperial’s acquisition of Altadis in 2008, and the disposal consists of two transaction perimeters:

Premium Cigar US

Tabacalera USA, which is responsible for the business’ premium cigar operations in the US, the world’s largest premium cigar market, including:

  • The assets and other property of Altadis USA, which is responsible for the distribution of premium cigars in the US;
  • Leading online retail platforms, including JR Cigar, and Serious Cigars;
  • A specialist brick-and-mortar retailer, Casa de Montecristo, with 28 stores across the USA.

Premium Cigar RoW

Cuban premium cigar interests, including:

  • 50 per cent stake in Habanos S.A., which exports hand-made cigars from Cuba and is responsible for international marketing activities. Habanos products include world-renowned Cuban brands such as Cohiba, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta.
  • 50 per cent stake in Altabana S.L., which is responsible for the distribution of Cuban cigars worldwide through its network of over 20 subsidiary distributors.
  • 50 per cent stake in Internacional Cubana de Tabaco, S.A., which is responsible for the manufacturing of Cuban premium machine-made cigars.
  • 50 per cent stake in Promotora de Cigarros, S.L., which manages the distribution of the Cuban premium machine-made cigar portfolio worldwide.

Other sales of premium cigar products through Tabacalera SA including:

  • Exclusive distribution of Cuban handmade cigars in Spain;
  • Non-Cuban premium handmade cigar sales operations outside the US, including Vegafina, the bestselling non-Cuban brand outside the US.

Premium cigar manufacturing facilities in Honduras and Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic factory manufactures both mass market cigars and premium cigars and will be physically separated to enable the sale of the premium cigar facilities. All employees, other than those involved with mass market cigars in the Dominican Republic factory, will transfer to the new owner Allied Cigar Corporation, S.L.

This announcement should not affect the supply of Cigars in our Retail outlets or online shop. Capt Caruana is committed to being the number one vendor on the island with a selection that is difficult to match in all of Europe.

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