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Altria plans to boost Colombia cigarette brands

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that the Altria Group (formerly Philip Morris International) was set to acquire the privately owned Colombian cigarette maker Productora Tabacalera de Colombia (Protabaco) for U$452 million as part of its plan to expand into the Latin American market.

Altri's sales have been shrinking in traditionally lucrative markets such as Japan and in the European Union, where smoking bans and higher taxes have diminished consumption. Protabaco is the second-largest tobacco company in Colombia, selling 6.1 billion cigarettes there and enjoying a 32% market share. Its brands include Mustang Premier and President.

Altria's plan is to continue developing Protabaco's brands rather than pushing outside brands, even such well known ones as Marlboro: local brands, properly managed, are expected to provide the desired growth.

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