Shareholder Investigation of Altria Group

Altria Group, Inc. (MO) Fails to Inform Investors of Investment Risks

According to the complaint, in December 2018, Altria Group, Inc. (MO) announced that it had invested $12.8 billion for a 35% economic stake in JUUL Labs, Inc. (“JUUL”), a leader in electronic vapor products. Touting the benefits of the investment, Altria neglected to conduct sufficient due diligence prior to this decision, and therefore failed to foresee the potential risks of public scrutiny and government regulatory pressure of JUUL’s products. These risks were realized beginning April 3, 2019, when the FDA announced its investigation into nearly three dozen cases of people suffering from seizures after consuming the e-vapor products through inhalation. Then, on August 30, 2019, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced they were collaborating to investigate the use of e-cigarette products. Following these investigations, on September 11, 2019, multiple news sources reported that the Trump administration was preparing a ban on e-cigarette products. Since then, several states have announced their decision to restrict e-cigarette use and California began conducting a criminal probe into JUUL. As a result of this scrutiny, Phillip Morris called off the potential $200 billion merger with Altria. On April 3, 2019, when investigations began, Altria’s stock closed at $52.14. The stock currently trades at around $41 per share, representing a 21% decline in value.

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