The Federal Trade Commission filed an antitrust complaint against Altria and Juul Wednesday, alleging that the tobacco giant invested in the e-cigarette maker to monopolize profits and fix prices. Altria took a 35 percent stake in Juul in late 2018 for $12.8 billion while the two still had competing brands on shelves. Juul’s sales had, at the time, leapfrogged those of Altria’s MarkTen e-cigarettes. But the investment included a clause that Altria not compete with Juul for six years, and the bigger company pulled its brands from shelves to eliminate competition, according to the complaint. The FTC called the investment and its associated agreements “an unreasonable restraint of trade” and is seeking to undo the investment.
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