Tobacco giant Altria Group to sell wine business for $1.2 billion

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July 9 (Reuters) – Altria Group Inc (MO.N) said on Friday it would sell its Ste. Michelle Wine Estates business to private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $1.2 billion, as the tobacco giant looks to focus its business on cigarette alternatives for smokers.

The Marlboro maker’s shares rose 3% in morning trading after the company said it expects to use the cash proceeds from the sale for additional share buybacks.

With the popularity of cigarettes falling in the United States, especially among youngsters, Altria has been developing its line of dipping tobacco, nicotine pouches and other smokeless oral tobacco products.

But its biggest bet on a cigarette alternative – a $12.8 billion…

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