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E-cigarette patents battle heats up

| March 14, 2014

Fontem Ventures, a wholly owned subsidiary of U.K.-based Imperial Tobacco, has filed patents suits in California against nine U.S. e-cigarette suppliers, including the top three—Lorillard’s Blu Ecigs, NJOY and Logic—which together account for about 80 percent of the $2 billion U.S. market, according to a Financial Times story by Duncan Robinson in London and Shannon Bond in New York.

Several other of the companies named, including Fin Branding, CB Distributors, Ballantyne Brands and Vapor Corp., are said to be among the top 10 in share of retail sales.

Robinson and Bond commented that big tobacco companies were relatively slow to enter the e-cigarette market, but said they were making up for lost time by using their size and financial firepower to take over a market that, while worth $3 billion globally, was still dominated by smaller players.

The full story is at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0d5e20ec-a877-11e3-a946-00144feab7de.html#axzz2vvbV4DmN.

New leaf processing alliance in Turkey

| March 13, 2014

Alliance One’s Turkish subsidiary and Öz-Ege have formed a joint-venture processing and storage facility in Turkey.

Under the agreement, Alliance One Tütün and Öz-Ege Tütün will each contract with Oryantal Tütün Paketleme Sanayi for oriental tobacco processing and storage, while continuing to maintain separate farmer contracting, agronomy, buying and selling operations.

Oryantal Tütün’s facility is at Torbali, Izmir.

“To drive improved value for our customers, we have developed this processing and storage joint venture in our modern efficient facility,” said Mahmut Özgener, chairman of Öz-Ege’s board of directors. “We look forward to the mutual benefits with AOT that this joint venture solidifies.”

Meanwhile, Christian Cypher, Alliance One’s regional director for Europe, described Öz-Ege as a strong partner and said that together the two companies were focused on a strategic alliance that would further strengthen and provide viability for the “Turkish oriental market and the dedicated Turkish oriental farmer.”

Kazakhstan plan something to chew on

| March 13, 2014

The Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) has supported a proposal by Kazakhstan’s health ministry to ban the use of smokeless tobacco products (nasvai, snuff and chewing tobacco) in the Customs Union countries of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, according to a story in The Times of Central Asia.

The Times quoted a Novosti-Kazakhstan report that, oddly, cited the National Coalition “For Kazakhstan Free of Tobacco Smoke.”

The coalition said the EEC had supported the arguments of Kazakhstan’s health ministry concerning the huge social and medical damage caused by the use of such products, and of the necessity of banning them. It added that the use of such tobacco products was causing an increasing incidence of throat, tongue and nasal cancers.

The stance of the Kazakh health ministry is said to have been supported by the health ministries of Russia and Belarus.

The most popular smokeless tobacco product in Kazakhstan and other Central Asia countries is nasvai.

The typical ingredients for nasvai is tobacco dust, gum, slaked lime, water and oil. It also can contain chemical flavorings and colorings.

A pellet is usually placed in the mouth for 10 to 15 minutes.

Three new Seven Stars in the firmament

| March 13, 2014

Japan Tobacco Inc. is due to launch three new versions of its Seven Stars brand, one of the most popular in Japan.

The company says that from mid-April Seven Stars Menthol 12 Box, Seven Stars Menthol 8 Box and Seven Stars Menthol 5 Box (the numbers indicate tar deliveries), will offer consumers the choice of cigarettes with a “deep aroma and rich taste,” achieved by using a blend that includes “ripened tobacco leaves.”

The ripened leaves are said to be characterized by their “deep roasted aroma, sharp flavor and rich smoke sensation,” adding depth to the product’s flavor and aroma as well as enhancing its menthol taste.

JTI recognized as Top Employer

| March 13, 2014

Japan Tobacco International was recognized as the third Top Employer in Europe during an awards ceremony held in London on Tuesday.

According to a note posted on the company’s website, 25 JTI offices “across Europe and beyond” were certified by the Top Employers Institute for their excellence in people management. The survey results were confirmed by an independent audit conducted by Grant Thornton.

“The number of JTI offices certified as Top Employers has more than doubled since last year,” said Jörg Schappei, human resources senior vice president at JTI. “We are proud to have received this recognition in an unrivalled number of countries. It is a testimony to the continuous efforts undertaken by our HR leads throughout the world to successfully attract, retain and engage our employees.”

PMI declares regular quarterly dividend

| March 13, 2014

The board of directors of Philip Morris International yesterday declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.94 per common share, payable on April 11 to shareholders of record as of March 27.

The ex-dividend date is March 25.

At the same time, PMI said that Mathis Cabiallavetta and J. Dudley Fishburn would retire from the board at the annual meeting of shareholders in May.

“Mathis and Dudley have served on the board since our spin-off, and for many years prior to that ably served on the board of our former parent company,” said Chairman Louis C. Camilleri. “We have benefited tremendously from their dedicated service and invaluable advice. They leave with our most heartfelt gratitude.”

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