Article by Christina Pellegrini and Marina Strauss
U.S. tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. is in talks to acquire an equity stake in Canadian cannabis grower Aphria Inc., multiple sources say..Details of Altria’s proposed investment in Aphria are still being finalized, said the sources, who asked to remain unnamed because the talks are private. They said Altria has expressed an interest in acquiring a minority stake in the Leamington, Ont.-based grower with the intention of eventually holding a majority of the company’s shares..The sources cautioned that it could take time for the two companies to strike a deal and that talks could still fall through..With a market capitalization of US$119-billion, Virginia-based Altria makes tobacco, cigars and wine. It owns Philip Morris USA, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, and has a significant stake in Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, the world’s largest brewing company. Meanwhile, Aphria’s market value on Wednesday afternoon was $4.3-billion. Its stock price has doubled since mid-August to $17.37..Altria executives have met with Aphria’s leadership team in Leamington on several occasions, the sources said. The most recent in-person discussions took place on Monday, with senior representatives making the trip from the U.S.