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Report: Early investors cut valuation of Juul

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Report: Early investors cut valuation of Juul

Juul Labs Inc. saw a valuation cut by two of its earliest investors, Tiger Global Management LLC and Fidelity Investments Institutional Services Co. Inc., according to media reports.

Investment firm Tiger Global cut its valuation of Juul to $19 billion at the end of September from $38 billion in December 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 9, citing people familiar with the development. Meanwhile, asset manager Fidelity Investments slashed the San Francisco-based company's valuation to $16.4 billion, Bloomberg News reported.

Marlboro cigarettes-maker Altria Group Inc., which had purchased a 35% stake in Juul, wrote down its investment in the e-cigarette producer to about $24 billion in October, the Journal said. Hedge fund Darsana Capital Partners LP also reportedly valued the San Francisco-based company at the same amount.

Juul itself decreased its valuation to $24 billion from $38 billion, according to a memo seen by the Journal. Announcing the write-down, CFO Guy Cartwright reportedly said in the memo, "A lot has changed in the market in the past year." The memo reportedly also cited the company's decision to stop selling all flavored vaping products, except tobacco and menthol, in the U.S.

A spokeswoman for New York-based Tiger Global declined to comment to the Journal on the reasons for the cut in valuation. Juul did not immediately respond to S&P Global Market Intelligence's request for comment, while Fidelity said in an e-mailed statement that as practice, it does not comment on matters related to individual companies.

Juul has been facing a string of legal actions over its marketing practices targeting minors. On Dec. 4, Minnesota became the latest U.S. state, after North Carolina, California and New York, to sue Juul for marketing flavored e-cigarettes to youth and children on top of several consumer law violations.

The company has also been under investigation for its role in the rise of youth vaping amid emerging cases of vaping-related deaths and diseases.