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Pedro Perez—Former President, Tabacalera

A talk with the man behind Tabacalera, Spain's $7 billion tobacco company.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Tom Selleck, Winter 95/96

(continued from page 18)

Perez: Well, the deal is still pending.

CA: I assume that one of the great benefits to General Cigar, and to you as an owner of General Cigar, is that instead of taking two to three years to negotiate who owns the Cuban brands, after the embargo is lifted, you can basically press a button, get two jets and fly them up and you're in the Cuban cigar business in America before anybody else. Particularly when it's a brand that they already own, that you have the worldwide rights to. Right? Like Partagas. You could be first!

Perez: Yes. If our Cuban friends share this strategy, we could be in a position to offer our American partner a direct and rapid way of introducing a brand like Partagas to the U.S..

CA: Besides Partagas, what other brands do you own?

Perez: General Cigar also owns Ramon Allones, Cifuentes and Cohiba for the U.S. markets.

CA: There is a question with Cohiba. General only owns the name Cohiba but not the logo art? Who else owns it?

Perez: The Cubans.

CA: This would give General Cigar a huge advantage when the embargo is lifted, particularly if the embargo isn't lifted for three or four years, which gives you enough time to build an inventory and warehouse an inventory so that when it happens, you not only have the legal issue resolved, you have the inventory in place. What this may mean is almost withdrawing Partagas from the Spanish market, most of it, anyway; I mean, if you put away 2 to 3 million each year...

Perez: We could...

CA: The deal is still pending, or let's say the deal doesn't happen, for whatever reason. When it was announced, it was announced only as an agreement in principle, subject to further negotiation and execution of a definitive agreement. But it essentially outlined a deal of 51 percent ownership for $100 million. What was there--the brands, the distribution, the personnel at General Cigar--that caused you to agree to such a significant price?

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