Fortuna Cigar House (FCH) could become the new owner of Imperial Brands’ Russian business, according to an Interfax report citing the Kommersant newspaper.
Following Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, several tobacco companies said they would scale back their operations in Russia. On April 20, Imperial Brands announced the transfer of its Russian business to local investors, subject to finalization of the registration of the transaction with local authorities. The company estimates a noncash write-off of around £225 million ($279.86) for this transaction.
Founded in Odessa in 1999, FCH has been operating in Russia since 2011 as a joint venture with the distributor Megapolis, which was previously associated with Russian tobacco mogul Igor Kesaev. The company sells cigars, tobacco, smoking accessories and materials and equipment. It also has its own retail outlet.
According to SPARK-Interfax, 50.01 percent of FCH belongs to Megapolis, and 49.99 percent belongs to BVG Cigar House Fortuna of Cyprus. In 2021, FCH posted revenue of RUR4.09 billion ($67.12 million) and a net profit of RUR404 million.
In March, Imperial Brands said it was suspending operations in Russia, including production at its factory in Volgograd, as well as sales and marketing. The company then began talks with a Russian legal entity on transferring the business.
Imperial Brands operates in Russia through Imperial Tobacco Volga, the production entity, and Imperial Tobacco Sales and Marketing. The company has held around 5.5 percent of the Russian tobacco market, according to business analysts cited by Kommersant.
Tobacco analysts Maxim Korolyov told Kommersant that Imperial Brands’ products will likely continue to be produced in Russia under a temporary license.