Altadis Purchases Leading U.S. Cigar Retailer, Distributor JR Cigar

Whippany, NJ - Tabacalera Cigars International S.A., a 100% subsidiary of Altadis S.A. has acquired a controlling interest in 800 JR Cigar, Inc.

The parties have entered into a "put and call" option agreement for the purchase of the remaining shares to be exercised after five years. The purchase price for these shares will be based on the financial performance of the company during the last eight quarters prior to the exercise of the put or call.

800 JR Cigar, Inc., is the largest wholesaler and retailer of premium cigars in the U.S. market. The company's main business is the distribution of cigars through its catalogs, three outlet centers in North Carolina and eight retail stores concentrated in the Northeast United States.

In calendar year 2002, the company reported total economic sales of $62 million dollars. Altadis anticipates that the acquisition will be accretive to earnings beginning in the first year. Lew Rothman, founder of the company, will continue as president and chief executive officer. With this investment Altadis group joins with a leading distributor to further develop distribution channels for cigars in the USA market.

Moore & Bode Sues P Diddy Over Cigar Secrets

Miami - Boutique cigar maker Moore & Bode Cigars has filed a lawsuit against Sean "P. Diddy" Combs seeking at least $15,000 in damages for unauthorized filming of its Miami cigar factory.

The lawsuit claims the company's "unique method of rolling the cigars" was taped for the "Shake Your Tailfeather" video while the owners were out, after the videographer was told to leave and without company permission. Moore & Bode, founded in 1990, is operated by Sharon Moore and her husband, Roberto Bode and produces the Miami and Flamboyán brands.

New Internationally-Focused Image for Agio

Duizel, Netherlands - Dutch cigar maker Agio Sigarenfabrieken N.V. has changed its name to Agio Cigars. The family-owned cigar company produces Mehari's, Panter, and Balmoral brands.

The company cited its international focus and the importance of export markets for the change, for which an English name fits better than the original Dutch one. Founded in 1904 in Duizel, The Netherlands, Agio Cigars operates production facilities in The Netherlands, Belgium, Sri Lanka, and the Dominican Republic. The company exports to over 100 countries selling almost 700 million cigars world-wide.

As part of the name change, Agio Cigars also rolled out new corporate identity - an updated logo portraying two branches of tobacco leafs illustrating the tobacco industry. The coloring was changed from blue to brown and gold, to better fit with the products Agio manufactures and markets, and to mark the 100th anniversary Agio will celebrate next year.

Perdomo Inks Distribution Agreement In Russia

Miami - Cigar maker Tabacalera Perdomo S.A. has signed an agreement with Nijnevoljskaya Tabachaya Kompaniya (NTK) for the distribution of the company's premium cigar brands throughout the Russian Federation. NTK will maintain its account base and manage growth throughout the federation from its headquarters in the Caspian seaport of Astrakhan and branch offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

"Russian cigar aficionados have long held that Cuban cigars are the best in the world," stated Frank Ramos, the Cuban-born director of sales for NTK. "But they are discovering the hidden treasure that is Cuban-seed Nicaraguan tobacco - and demand is increasing for premium cigars from Nicaragua at the moment."

"NTK is a young and aggressive company, and a wonderful opportunity for our family of premium cigar brands to make dramatic inroads in the Russian market," stated Billy Perdomo, Tabacalera Perdomo's international sales director. "Together, we're confident that Perdomo will quickly become a top-of-mind brand among Russian cigar connoisseurs."

With 20 employees, NTK is a three-year old privately-held distributor of premium tobacco products to over 200 traditional and specialized retail outlets throughout the Russian Federation.

Toraño Lights Up Crew of USS Antietam with Cigars

Officers and crew of the USS Antietam, on duty deployment in the Pacific Ocean, enjoyed cigars donated by Toraño Cigars during an on-board cigar event in July. "We thought the men and women serving their country might enjoy a little luxury from home, so we offered to send them free cigars," said vice president Charlie Toraño. The event took the form of a "Steel Beach," where all the personnel assembled on deck for cigars, refreshments, and dips in the ocean. Exodus, Reserva Selecta, and Signature Collection were the featured Torano cigars.

At 567 feet, the Antietam is part of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson's battle group. The guided missile cruiser carries Tomahawk, Aegis, and other missiles, along with two helicopters. The ship's company totals 409 officers and enlisted personnel.

Torano received over 50 photos of the Antietam's crew, enjoying their cigars during the brief respite from the rigors of duty. "In addition, to show their appreciation," states Toraño, "the ship also sent us USS Antietam caps and lighters."

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