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Richard L. DiMeola

Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Consolidated Cigar Corporation
From the Print Edition:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Summer 96

(continued from page 10)

DiMeola: No. There was a formula that was used.

CA: We heard that those rights sold for $10 million. So you got your portion, they got their portion, and today you own the Upmann's brand rights, as an example, for the Dominican Republic and the United States, and that's it.

DiMeola: Well, we also maintain that we have the rights in Cuba. And there's a litigation still going in France which we also retain, although Tabacalera holds the rights to the trademarks in France. We retain the litigation and any results of it. And that's still going through the French courts.

CA: No doubt you have internally discussed the possible scenarios of what will happen once the embargo is over, and how this will affect your business and how you will participate or not participate in the renewed market of Cuban cigars in the United States.

DiMeola: Sure. I mean it's a very interesting subject if you're a brand owner.

CA: Do you have any point of view on when you think the embargo will end? And what do you think will happen, and how will that affect the market and your company?

DiMeola: I don't know when the embargo will end. It certainly looks like we're moving in that direction. But after all, I heard people say the same thing in 1989 when the Berlin wall came down, and we still have an embargo.

CA: There is a lot of speculation that if Clinton is reelected, that in the first quarter of '97 the embargo will likely be ended. [Editor's note: The interview took place before Cuba downed, in late February, two small airplanes flown by Brothers to the Rescue, a Miami-based Cuban exile organization.]

DiMeola: Maybe it will. Maybe it won't. We don't know. I subscribe to the industry position that we would like to see the government end the embargo when they decide to do it, in an orderly fashion when it pertains to cigars and tobacco. We would like to see the U.S. industry be able to obtain Cuban tobacco first, before Cuban cigars are allowed in the market, in order to allow us to use Cuban tobacco and say that we are using it; so that the mysticism surrounding Cuba does not give anyone bringing in Cuban cigars an unfair advantage.

CA: OK. You own the U.S. rights to H. Upmann and Montecristo. Take those as obvious examples.

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