Altria Group has asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to drop its 2020 challenge of the company’s 2018 acquisition of a 35 percent share in Juul Labs, reports Reuters. On March 3, the tobacco giant announced it had exchanged its stake for a license to Juul’s heated tobacco intellectual property rights.
In its legal challenge, the FTC contends that the tobacco giant’s $12.8 billion investment in Juul violates antitrust law because the company acquired the position rather than continuing to compete against Juul in the market for closed-system e-cigarettes.
In February 2022, an administrative law judge dismissed the FTC’s claims, finding that the evidence failed to sustain the alleged violations.
The next step would have been for the full commission to decide whether to accept that decision and dismiss the FTC case.
However, Altria recently exited its investment and previously terminated a non-compete agreement with Juul that the FTC opposed.
“There is nothing left of the transaction to be challenged. Altria and JLI respectfully ask the commission to dismiss this matter as moot,” Altria Group and Juul Labs wrote in a filing to the FTC.