R.J. Reynolds signs $340 million purchase deal with Santa Fe Natural Tobacco

Tuesday, December 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc., the country's second-largest tobacco company, said Tuesday it has signed an agreement to buy Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. for $340 million in cash.

The announcement came a day after the deadline Santa Fe set for Canadian cigarette company Rothmans Inc. to increase its offer of $353.7 million in cash, stock and other securities.

RJR, the maker of Camel and Winston cigarettes, plans to operate privately held Santa Fe Natural as a wholly owned subsidiary after the deal closes in January.

The Santa Fe, N.M.-based company, maker of additive-free American Spirit cigarettes, had profits of $26.7 million on net sales of $94.2 million in the year ending Sept. 30, R.J. Reynolds said in a statement.

``Santa Fe is a strong and profitable company,'' RJR chairman and CEO Andrew J. Schindler said. ``RJR's goal is to enhance the strength of Santa Fe, the equity of Natural American Spirit and the company's relationship with its consumers.''

Santa Fe Natural employs about 225 people. RJR said the 215 in New Mexico and North Carolina would stay in place, but did not mention the fate of 10 in Nevada.