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Davidoff Acquires Cusano

David Savona
Posted: June 23, 2009

Oettinger Davidoff Group, the owner of the Davidoff and Avo cigar brands, has acquired Cusano Cigars, the midsize cigar company from Bradenton, Florida, that sells Cusano, Cuvée and other cigars. The deal was announced to employees of the company on Monday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This is the second acquisition of a well-known cigarmaker by Davidoff in eight months—in October, the company acquired the Camacho brand.

The Cusano brands complement Davidoff. While the Basel, Switzerland, company sells few cigars for less than $10, and many for $20 or more, the meat of Cusano's business is in value-priced brands. You can buy a Cusano cigar for $3 or $4. The most expensive brand in the company portfolio is the Cuvée line, which goes to about $12 per cigar. The company is particularly strong in convenience stores, where Davidoff products are seldom sold.

"Through the incorporation of Cusano Cigars in the Oettinger Davidoff Group, we are gaining access to several new distribution channels in the U.S.A.," said Davidoff CEO Reto Cina. "And our management in the U.S.A. will be further strengthened by Michael J. Chiusano, a marketing and sales professional, a profound authority on the market and an innovative thinker."

Davidoff did not reveal the size of the Cusano business in its announcement of the deal, but in a 2008 Cigar Aficionado story, then-owner Michael Chiusano said he sold 4.6 million cigars in 2007 and was expecting to do five million in 2008. Davidoff, which claimed a turnover of 1.3 billion Swiss francs ($1.2 billion), said it produces 28.2 million cigars annually. It has nearly 3,700 employees.

Cusano employs 36 people. Many of its cigars are made under contract, and Davidoff maker Hendrik Kelner has made cigars for the company since 1997. Cusano recently opened its own Dominican warehouse and cigar factory. The company was founded in 1995 by Michael Chiusano, who was working in finance at the time. He took a trip to the Dominican Republic and found a cigar he enjoyed so much that he bought 100 of them. Fashioning a rudimentary band from his company letterhead, he created the brand Cusano Hermanos, using the phonetic spelling of his name. Joined by his brother Joe, Chiusano created a sizeable cigar business despite launching the company in the difficult post-cigar-boom environment.

Both Chiusano brothers are remaining with the company, Michael as president of Cusano. "Our family is honored to have been selected and welcomed into the Oettinger Davidoff Group," said Michael Chiusano. "Belonging now to the Oettinger Davidoff Group means our family name and dedication to our products will be shared and protected around the world. The global presence of the Davidoff group is unparalleled and we are proud to become members of such a respected team."

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