One of the world's largest producers and marketers of tobacco, cigarettes and related products, Altria Group has initiated talks with Canadian cannabis producer Cronos for a likely takeover, as it seeks to diversify its business beyond traditional tobacco smokers.
According to Marijuana Business Daily, the total demand for marijuana including both legal and black-market sales is estimated to be around $52.5 billion, while the e-cigarette market is expected to grow to $6.6 billion in the US in 2018.
Cigarette sales in the US are on a continuous decline over the last few years, largely owing to older smokers dying and very few young people taking up smoking. This has resulted cigarette smoking in U.S. falling to its lowest point in recorded history, but marijuana and e-cigarettes have opened up a new horizon for cigarette makers like Altria to explore.
That being said, Cronos has not confirmed any deal nor there is any certainty it will do so. However, shares of Cronos rose as much as 23% as the news hit the market, pushing Cronos Group's market cap close to $2 billion.
The news comes as Altria is also eyeing a significant minority stake in e-cigarette company, Juul, in-line with its diversification strategy.