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Yarygin/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Altria Group, Inc., the owner of tobacco brand Marlboro, announced a $1.8 billion investment in cannabis company Cronos.

The deal would give Altria a 45 percent stake in Cronos, with the ability to increase ownership to 55 percent in the next four years. Altria will also have the right to nominate four members to Cronos Group's Board of Directors. That board will increase from five members to seven.

"Investing in Cronos Group as our exclusive partner in the emerging global cannabis category represents an exciting new growth opportunity for Altria," Chairman and CEO Howard Willard said in a press release.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2019.

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