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Andhra sales picking up but volume, prices still down

| July 29, 2015

After a slow start, flue-cured auctions in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh are proceeding ‘at a satisfactory pace’, according to a story by Ch. R.S.Sarma for Business Line, citing the Tobacco Board of India chairman, K. Gopal.

In a story relayed by the TMA, Gopal was quoted as having told media representatives that the Union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had directed tobacco buyers to purchase leaf in accordance with the agreements they had reached with the board.

Although sales have picked up, volumes are still behind those of last year and grower prices are down, too.

Growers were said to have sold 76.48 million kg of leaf at an average price of Rs106.28 (US$ 1.66) per kg as of July 25, down from 138.36 million kg at an average price of Rs119.57 (US$ 1.87) per kg during the corresponding period of last year.

The board has reduced the Andhra crop size from 172 million kg for the 2014-15 season to 120 million kg for the 2015-16 season to reflect current market conditions, including the slump in demand from overseas.

Gopal is currently leading a delegation to China to promote Indian tobacco.

Vector to webcast 2Q results conference call

| July 29, 2015

The Vector Group is due to conduct a conference call and webcast to discuss its second quarter 2015 results from 09.00 Eastern Time on July 30.

Investors can access the call by dialing 800-859-8150 and entering 24708438 as the conference ID number; or by registering at www.investorcalendar.com.

A replay of the call will be available shortly after the call ends through August 30 at 877-656-8905; ID number 24708438.

The archived webcast will be available at www.investorcalendar.com for one year.

Vector Group is a holding company that indirectly owns Liggett Group LLC, Vector Tobacco Inc. and Zoom E-Cigs LLC, and directly owns New Valley LLC, which owns a controlling interest in Douglas Elliman Realty, LLC.

Taxpayers footing bill for standard packs dust-up

| July 28, 2015

More than A$50 million of taxpayer money is expected to go up in smoke as the Australian government defends cigarette standardized packaging in a secretive international tribunal in Singapore, according to a story by Andrew Probyn for the West Australian.

But costs will become much higher if Australia loses its first defence that Philip Morris indulged in ‘venue shopping’ by shifting its headquarters to Hong Kong to sue Australia.

Australia alleges that Philip Morris, in anticipation of the then Labor government’s standardized packaging legislation in 2011, restructured itself so that its Australian subsidiary became wholly owned by the Hong Kong-based Philip Morris Asia.

This allowed Philip Morris to sue Australia under investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions of a 1993 bilateral agreement between Australia and Hong Kong that allowed compensation for ‘expropriation’ of investments.

A spokesman for Philip Morris was quoted as saying that governments had the right to “experiment” with taxpayers’ money but should not be surprised when companies and countries asserted their rights.

“Philip Morris is seeking compensation from the Australian Government for its plain packaging experiment which deprives us of our brands and intellectual property, and for treating Philip Morris and its investments unfairly and inequitably through changing arbitrarily our legal and regulatory environment,” the spokesman said.

“Our claims address the unlawfulness of the expropriation of property and do not question the need for comprehensive regulation of tobacco products.”

The full story is at: https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/29064155/tobacco-giant-sues-australia/.

Andhra leaf growers press Delhi for compensation

| July 28, 2015

A delegation of tobacco growers from the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh is planning to travel to New Delhi on August 5 to press the union government for compensation following a decision to slash the state’s flue-cured production target, according to a story in the Hindu.

Earlier this month the 2015-16 authorized flue-cured crop for Andhra was cut by 30 percent from that of 2014-15.

The Tobacco Board decided – based on indications given by the Indian Tobacco Association (representing tobacco manufacturers, dealers and exporters) – to fix the crop size for 2015-16 at 120 million kg as against 172 million kg for 2014-15.

The board decided also to limit the production strictly to the authorized crop size by dealing ‘sternly’ with excess production; so as to ensure fair and remunerative prices to growers, according to a board press note.

It was reported that the board had reduced the size of the crop for 2015-16 after taking into consideration the gloomy situation on the world market, the presence of carryover stocks, declining demand for tobacco on the domestic market and growers’ demands for ‘remunerative prices for their produce’.

Meanwhile, the board extended the flue-cured tobacco auctions currently being staged in Andhra until September because of the slow rate of sales. Flue-cured auctions typically take place from January to July in Andhra and from September to February in Karnataka.

The delegation aims to meet Union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to press the government to announce a compensation of Rs1 million (US$ 15,600) for every tobacco barn that is dismantled because of the decision to reduce the crop size.

The growers also want the board’s trade wing to purchase this season’s low grade tobacco at Rs75 (US$ 1.17) per kg and medium grade tobacco at Rs110 (US$ 1.72) per kg.

The growers noted that while the Health Ministry wanted to phase out tobacco cultivation in line with the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the Commerce Ministry was trying to increase tobacco exports.

Logic part of JT’s emerging-products ambitions

| July 28, 2015

Japan Tobacco Inc. said today that the JT Group had completed the acquisition of Logic Technology Development, one of the leading US e-cigarette brands.

The acquisition was first announced at the end of April 30.

Founded in 2010, Logic is said to sell a range of high quality rechargeable, ready-to-use and disposable products, including the Logic Pro tank system.

‘The investment in Logic provides JT Group with a sizeable participation in the largest and fast-growing US e-cigarette market,’ JT said in a note posted on its website.

‘Logic’s well established presence in the US, in addition to the acquisition of E-Lites in the UK, further underpins the group’s global ambitions to become the leader in emerging products.’

JT said the acquisition was expected to have a minor effect on the group’s consolidated financial performance for fiscal year 2015.

Universal to webcast results conference call

| July 28, 2015

Universal Corporation is due to webcast a conference call that will be held from 17.00 Eastern Time on August 6 following the release of the company’s results for the first quarter of fiscal year 2016 after market close on that date.

The conference call, which will be in listen-only mode, will be hosted by vice president and treasurer Candace C. Formacek.

The live webcast will be available at www.universalcorp.com, where a replay will be made available until November 4.

A taped replay of the call will be available from 20.30 on August 6 through August 19 at (855) 859-2056 using the telephone replay identification number 95972066.

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