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ATLANTA -- FIN Branding Group LLC, an electronic cigarette maker, tapped BB&T Corp. to review bids as more companies look to get a piece of the e-cigarette pie.
BB&T is receiving a "growing and steady" number of inquiries, FIN CEO Elliot Maisel told Bloomberg Businessweek. Possible buyers include tobacco and drug companies, as well as private-equity firms, he said. Maisel declined to name those who have expressed interest.
Potential investors "see the financial opportunity," said Maisel, who started the locally-based company in 2011 and projects revenue of almost $70 million this year. He said he is open to joint venture or takeover offers from strategic buyers such as Reynolds American Inc., Altria Group Inc., international tobacco companies or large pharmaceutical companies.
Merger and acquisition activity in the electronic cigarette industry could be heating up. Earlier this week, Eli Alelov, president, CEO and founder of Logic Technology Development LLC, acknowledged that tobacco companies have been talking to him and his partner, but he said it is too early to sell his Livingston, N.J.-based e-cigarette company.
This attention come on the heels of news that The Altria Group Inc. is developing its own electronic cigarette with an eye toward a second-half 2013 introduction, as CSNews Online previously reported. The Richmond, Va.-based parent of Philip Morris USA and its Marlboro brand is the last of the big three tobacco companies to enter the field.
In other FIN news, the company hired Joana Martins as vice president of marketing. She will develop and execute marketing and communication strategies to position FIN's industry leadership.
Before joining FIN, Martins managed several brands for Meda Consumer Healthcare, the U.S. over-the-counter division of Stockholm-based Meda AB. Prior to that, she led food and beverage strategy for Darden Restaurants Inc., a Fortune 500 full-service restaurant company.
Earlier in her career, Martins served as director of marketing for the pet division of Black & Decker, as well as product marketing manager at Burger King Brands, developing and launching its Breakfast Value Menu. At Nestlè USA, she managed seasonal confections and the snacks business.
"We are excited to have someone of Joana's caliber joining the team. Her big brand experience will play an important role for FIN as she leads our marketing efforts to build the most successful brand in the electronic cigarette industry," Maisel said.
The FIN product line is available in more than 35,000 retail establishments nationwide, including Walmart, Winn-Dixie, Circle K, Sam's Club, Sunoco, Stripes, Murphy USA and Pilot Flying J locations.