General Tobacco - Arkansas court denies AG's notice delisting its cigarette brands..

February 6, 2010 - On January 27th General Tobacco (GT) said it will comply with recent notices regarding the removal of its cigarette brands from certain state directories of approved brands for sale. General Tobacco products are on its way to being barred from selling its cigarette products in 18 states over its failure to make payments under the multistate Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), which was created in 1998. Master Settlement Agreement (MSA)..

General Tobacco has announced that an Arkansas court has denied the Arkansas Attorney General's (AG) motion to remove General Tobacco's cigarette brands from the directory of approved brands to sell in that state and ordered the AG to arbitrate the dispute ordered in 2006, holding that GT's cigarette brands may continue to be sold lawfully in Arkansas, General Tobacco said. Since the Arkansas AG served as the identical voice for the other 42 attorneys general, they may now be legally bound to the Arkansas order. General Tobacco said it believes that the order, issued by the Circuit Court of Pulaski County on Jan. 26, 2010, should prevent not only Arkansas but any other state that is part of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) from delisting General Tobacco's brands. Arkansas is the only state that has brought a court action to determine whether the delisting of General Tobacco's cigarette brands is proper. None of the states that have announced the delisting of GT's brands sought any court's permission to do so. Now that a court has ruled that delisting of the brands may not proceed, General Tobacco has asked all of the states in the MSA to comply with that court's order.

While General Tobacco is hopeful that delisting issues with various states will be resolved promptly and in compliance with the Arkansas court's order, the company has requested that its customers continue to respect the delisting dates that were previously announced by certain states until those states confirm whether or not they will follow the court's order that General Tobacco's brands not be delisted.

Vibo Corporation operates Mayodan, N.C.-based General Tobacco as its sole holding and was founded by nonsmoking businessman Vidal Suriel in 1997. General Tobacco is the sixth largest tobacco company in the nation with approximately $300 million in annual sales, is a full participating member of the MSA. The company began its operation in 2000 distributing its own cigarette brand, GT One. The company now distributes Bronco, Silver, Vaquero Little Cigars, and their new premium menthol cigarette, 32 Degrees.

Reference: Ark. Court Denies Delisting Strengthens General Tobacco's position, company says, CSP (Convenience Stores/Petroleum) Daily News, 2/2/2010.

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