Altadis (Alliance Tobacco Distributors) born from the merger of Spain's Tabacalera and France's Seita SA (F.STA) state tobacco monopolies..

October 14, 1999 - Tabacalera, established in the seventeenth century as the tobacco monopoly of the Spanish empire, and Seita, which was incorporated from the remains of the Bourbon kings' tobacco monopoly by Napoleon I in the nineteenth century, joined operations to protect themselves from takeover by such tobacco giants as Philip Morris and to bolster their ability to make acquisitions and expand their power in the world marketplace. Altadis will be the world’s fourth-largest tobacco group in terms of revenue and the largest producer of cigars, with a market share of close to 25% of world sales. Cesar Alierta Izuel, current chairman of Tabacalera, and Seita chairman Jean-Dominique Comolli will be named co-chairmen of the newly merged group. Comolli will be responsible for the cigarette division while Alierta will head the cigar division. Altadis aims to make global brands of its Fortuna cigarettes and Seita’s Gauloises. It also wants to buy other names as it seeks to move beyond its two domestic strongholds and better compete with international labels such as Philip Morris’s Marlboro. Also, in 1999 the company bought a controlling stake in the Cuban cigar monopoly CorporaciĆ³n Habanos and becomes the world leader in cigar production. References: Altadis S.A., The Altadis Group History and European News Bulletin 9939 - 18 October 1999.