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The word habanos (not normally capitalised) means literally (something) from Havana, and is the word used in the Spanish-speaking world for Havana cigars and, sometimes, cigars in general. Habanos S.A. owns the trademarks of every brand of Cuban-made cigars and cigarettes in the countries they are exported to and franchises the La Casa del Habano chain of cigar stores. To control distribution and protect against counterfeiting, Habanos S.A. exports to only one company in each country (Hunters & Frankau for Great Britain and Gibraltar, 5th Avenue Cigars for Germany, Intertabak for Switzerland, Pacific Cigar Co. for most of the Pacific Rim, etc.). The only nation to which Habanos S.A. doesn't sell cigars is the United States, which has had a trade embargo against Cuba since 1962.
In 2000, the Franco-Spanish tobacco giant Altadis purchased 50% of Habanos S.A. There has been speculation that their influence has led to Habanos' drastic restructuring of their cigar lines and size offerings, the adoption of marketing practices and production methods more in-line with cigar companies that market in the US, and the increasing number of "special release" and "limited edition" lines of cigars. It has also been suggested that Altadis might be ramping Habanos up ready to trade with the US, anticipating the end of the embargo. On the other hand, some observers have noted a restoration of Cuban cigar quality, which had declined dramatically in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union. Altadis Altadis was acquired by Imperial Tobacco in February 2008.
- "Altadis to be delisted Feb 25 - bourse" (PDF). Imperial Tobacco. 22 February 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 5, 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2008.