New York – One of the world's largest tobacco companies entered the cannabis market with an investment of $ 2.4 billion in Cronos Group, a Canadian medical and recreational marijuana company.
Altria, which produces Marlboro cigarettes, is acquiring a 45% stake in Cronos, the Toronto-based company said.
He added that the Richmond tobacco company in Virginia will pay an additional $ 1.4 billion for guarantees that, if exercised, would give Altria a majority stake of 55% of the property.
This would mean that Altria's investment would be at the same level as the $ 4 billion spent at the start of this year by Constellation Brands to acquire shares in Canopy Growth Corp, another Canadian marijuana producer.
The investment made in August by Constellation, which makes Corona and other drinks, was the largest to date by a major US company in the cannabis market.
Whatever the hesitation of large corporations in the United States with regards to entering the cannabis market, it seems that it disappears if it is a financial justification.
The huge investments of Altria have encouraged the cannabis companies that have started to settle in Canada, where their recreational use has been legalized this year.
The shares of Cronos Group Inc. increased by 31% and approached the historic high at the opening on Friday.
The rapid growth of the cannabis market is expected to continue as legalization in the United States expands and social norms change. On Tuesday, Utah's ultraconservative state became the most recent state to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Consumers are expected to spend $ 57 billion a year on legal cannabis by 2027, according to Arcview Market Research, an investment company focused on cannabis. In North America, spending is expected to increase from $ 9.2 billion in 2017 to $ 47.3 billion in 2027.