Marlboro owner Altria invests $1.8B in marijuana company

The tobacco company that owns Marlboro is hoping to boost business by investing $1.8 billion in a marijuana company.

Media outlets report Altria made the deal Friday with Canadian cannabis company Cronos group. The investment will give Altria a 45 percent stake in the company, with an option for Altria to increase its stake to 55 percent over the next five years.

The deal may have been prompted by stagnant cigarette sales -- CNN reports Altria's stock has fallen nearly 25 percent this year and the company is expected to report revenue growth of only about 1 percent this year and in 2019.


Cronos shares rose more than 30 percent early Friday. Altria shares were up 2 percent.

Altria CEO Howard Willard said in a statement that the investment "represents an exciting new growth opportunity for Altria."

Altria isn't the first company to make a big investment in marijuana. In August, Corona Beer owner Constellation Brands invested $4 billion in cannabis company Canopy Growth Corporation.