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    Houchens Sells Cigarette Unit to Imperial Tobacco

    BOWLING GREEN, Ken. -- Houchens Industries Inc. here has sold its CBHC Inc./Commonwealth Brands cigarette subsidiary to London-based Imperial Tobacco Group PLC for $1.9 billion, making the latter the first European cigarette company to enter the United States in a decade.

    BOWLING GREEN, Ken. -- Houchens Industries Inc. here has sold its CBHC Inc./Commonwealth Brands cigarette subsidiary to London-based Imperial Tobacco Group PLC for $1.9 billion, making the latter the first European cigarette company to enter the United States in a decade.

    The diversified, privately held Houchens - which operates a variety of subsidiaries including Save-A-Lot, Food Giant, IGA, and Piggly Wiggly supermarkets -- acquired CBHC Inc. in 2001. Commonwealth Brands is the fourth largest U.S. cigarette company and has a national presence in the discount segment of the tobacco industry through its USA Gold and Sonoma brands.

    Jimmie Gipson, Houchens c.e.o., said the sale will provide funds to expand Houchens' existing businesses and acquire new business platforms.

    In addition to its retail subsidiaries, Houchens' also operates construction, manufacturing, insurance, and distribution divisions. The company has annual consolidated revenues of approximately $2.5 billion.

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