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Tobacco Maker UST Moves To Altria's Virginia HQ

MICHAEL FELBERBAUM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) ¿ Smokeless tobacco company UST Inc. has finished moving its operations from Connecticut to Richmond, where its new parent company, Altria Group Inc., is based.

Altria bought the maker of the Copenhagen and Skoal smokeless tobacco brands in January in a deal valued at $10.4 billion, plus the assumption of $1.3 billion in debt.

Daniel Butler, president of UST's U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, said Wednesday that about 80 people are relocating from Stamford, Conn. Most have begun working at the Richmond office and the Center for Research and Technology, though others are still winding down operations in Connecticut over the coming months. About 350 people worked at the UST office.

Buying UST gives Altria a leading position in the expanding market for moist smokeless tobacco, which is chewed.

Altria, owner of No. 1 U.S. cigarette maker Philip Morris USA, which sells the Marlboro brand in the U.S., now controls about 50 percent share of the tobacco industry and offers leading brands in each segment.

Sales of smokeless tobacco have grown about 7 percent annually in recent years, and about 6.2 million Americans now use the products. Tobacco companies are aggressively pursuing smokeless tobacco as sales of cigarettes decline 3 percent to 4 percent each year.

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