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WSJ : Altria In Talks To Take Minority Stake In E-cigarette Startup Juul Labs

Altria Group Inc. (MO) is in talks to take a significant minority stake in e-cigarette startup Juul Labs Inc., the Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the matter.

No deal is imminent, the report said, but should there be one it would be big: Closely held Juul, a three-year-old company based in San Francisco with more than 1,000 employees, was valued at $16 billion in a funding round this summer.

Juul's growth — it had $1.8 billion in retail sales in the year ended Nov. 17, according to Nielsen data cited by Wells Fargo — has made it one of the most valuable U.S. startups, but it has drawn criticism because of its products' popularity with teens.

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