CIGAR ASSOCIATES, -0.35% The cigar company has been eyeing South Africa, the world’s fourth-largest economy and home to the world-famous coffee industry, for years, according to two people familiar with the company’s thinking.
The decision to expand the company into the country was made last month, the people said, adding that the new company will take advantage of a planned $200 million investment from a state-run fund, called the South African Fund, which will provide funds to new companies.
The investment is part of a broader effort by the South Africa government to diversify the economy, the two people said.
The company is currently working on a deal to buy tobacco company Red Frog SA, which is the only remaining tobacco company in the country.
CIGARS, -1.12% CIGars said in March it would expand to the country after months of negotiations with the government.
That announcement came a month after a plan by the government to close off the private market in South Africa in 2019.
That led to the closure of most of the nation’s bars and restaurants.
Cigars is among a group of companies that have been lobbying the government in South African capital Johannesburg to open the private cigar market to the public.
The move has been criticized by tobacco groups who say the government is limiting competition and discouraging the purchase of cigars.
CAGRAIN, -2.19% The government has been considering a tobacco-control plan in South, but it is unclear whether the measure will include a tax on cigars.
The government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company plans to open up to five new stores, including a small one in Johannesburg, the second-largest city in South and one of the country’s wealthiest, according the people.
It is also looking at expansion in other areas, including India, Vietnam and Turkey, according one of those people, who asked not to be named.
Cigs plans to expand its footprint into the United States and Europe, the company said in a statement on Monday.
Cigars said it has more than 5,000 stores worldwide, and plans to double that number in 2019 and 2019, according with a statement posted on its website.
It also said it will open more than 20 new locations in North America and South America in 2018 and 2019.