December 12, 2007 - Altria completes Middleton acquisition.. The Altria Group said yesterday (12/11/2007)that, having received regulatory clearance, it had completed the acquisition of John Middleton, a leading manufacturer of machine-made large cigars, from privately held Bradford Holdings.(Tobacco Reporter) Cigarette consumption has been decreasing for more than 25 years and slipped about 2% between in 2006 year and in 2005. Machine-made cigars shipments, however, grew 4% between 2003 through 2007, per Altria. Middleton, which produces cigars in King of Prussia and Limerick, Pa., saw operating income grow at a 10% compound annual rate during the same period. Black & Mild brand generates 23% of machine-made large cigar sales. The deal, which was the biggest in Altria’s 105-year history, is expected to close by the end of the year. ("Philip Morris Says Have a Cigar" by Mike Beirne, Brandweek, November 6, 2007) See related News Briefs: November 25, 2007, November 24, 2007,November 2, 2007and May 16, 2007.