Corporate debt recently passed the $1 trillion mark in a continuing sign of global financial displacement.Marketsread more
"Federal debt, which is already high by historical standards, is on an unsustainable course," CBO director Phillip Swagel said in the report.Politicsread more
Target CEO Brian Cornell still thinks the U.S. consumer is strong and spending. Target's latest quarterly results showed the big-box retailer is benefiting from that.Retailread more
Stocks rose on Wednesday as strong quarterly results from retailers such as Target and Lowe's lifted investor sentiment.US Marketsread more
President Trump insists the economy is healthy and says the only thing holding U.S. growth back is the Federal Reserve.Marketsread more
Trading volumes this week are well below their recent averages and that means this comeback may be suspect.Marketsread more
The rule could defy a 2015 Flores Settlement Agreement court order that says families cannot be held in detention for more than 20 days.Politicsread more
Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan is not worried about an economic slowdown, saying the U.S. consumer is still in a strong place.Banksread more
In a second-round of tweets aimed at the U.S. central bank, the president asked, "WHERE IS THE FEDERAL RESERVE?"Marketsread more
J.P. Morgan Chase customers will no longer be able to pay with their phones in stores beginning next year.Marketsread more
* Cigar business to raise 1 bln-1.5 bln pounds - Jefferies
* Cigarette sales fall for 17 consecutive months - Cowen
* E-cigarettes also facing pressure from U.S authorities (Adds analyst comment, cigarette data, premium cigar valuation)
April 30 (Reuters) - British tobacco group Imperial Brands said it would sell its global premium cigar business as part of plans to divest assets worth 2 billion pounds ($2.61 billion) by May 2020 to cut debt and invest in vaping products and other growth areas.
The maker of Davidoff, Parker & Simpson and Gauloises Blondes cigarettes said last year it would sell businesses, as it looks to roll out new vaping products to improve performance in a declining tobacco market.
Cigarette sales have fallen for 17 consecutive months, industry-wide analysis by Cowen showed. Sales fell 3.8 percent in the four weeks to April 20 and 4.2 percent over 12 weeks.
E-cigarettes have also faced pressure from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which released plans in March to slow a surge in teenage use of the devices.
Imperial, which had net debt of 11.9 billion pounds at the end of September, said it had generated 280 million pounds from its divestment and expected to generate a total of 2 billion pounds by May 2020, "if not earlier".
Analysts at Jefferies said in a note they expected selling the premium cigar business to raise 1 billion to 1.5 billion pounds for Imperial, which also makes Kool and Winston cigarettes.
"Proceeds can be used to delever and further support investment around its vapour business where we believe it is positioned well to take more than a fair share," they said.
The premium cigar business makes 340 million cigars a year with 4,500 employees and factories in Dominican Republic, Honduras and the United States.
"Premium cigars has performed well over a number of years," Imperial said. "However, it is a unique luxury business with a different consumer base and route to market relative to Imperial's other businesses."
Imperial does not list performance indicators for the premium cigar business, but Jefferies analysts estimate it generates annual sales of about 345 million pounds and profit of about 85 million pounds.
Imperial said "significant progress" had been made with a number of other divestment opportunities.
"Recognising that tobacco valuations have come under some pressure in the last 12 months, assets will be sold only if they will realise appropriate value," the company added.
Imperial is being advised by AZ Capital on the sale of its premium cigar business.
($1 = 0.7668 pounds) (Reporting by Justin George Varghese, Sangameswaran S and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru Editing by James Emmanuel and Edmund Blair)