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Victory on Nasdaq

The Michigan-based vaping supplies company Electronic Cigarettes International Group (ECIG), formerly Victory E-Cigarettes, will be offering 33.3 million shares of stock on Nasdaq beginning this Friday (24 October). Until now, the rapidly expanding company has been available as an OTC ("over-the-counter") stock.

The company has been engaged in an energetic acquisition phase during the past year, and now appears to be positioning itself to compete with the Big Tobacco firms that sell poisonous combustible cigarettes in addition to vapor products. "Our goal is to become the leading e-cigarette company in the world," proclaims their investment portfolio.

Founded just a little over two years ago, in April 2012, to sell "Victory E-Cigs" online, the company moved into retail markets the following March with disposable e-cigs, regular and menthol. They went public with an over-the-counter stock offering that June, and then in December joined forces with Bill Fields, former CEO of a division of Walmart Stores, who joined the Victory board of directors as it merged with his E-Cig Acquisition Company LLC (a.k.a. Fields Texas).

The name says it all – acquisition was to be the watchword. Within a month the acquisition of the UK firm VAPESTICK was wrapped up. VAPESTICK was founded in 2010 by Michael Clapper and Michiel Carmel, offering a distinctive e-cig both online and in a multitude of UK retail outlets. Clapper was involved in the founding of ECITA (the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association), Europe's vaping industry trade group, and is now its president. VAPESTICK is developing markets on the continent, including a significant operation in Russia.

Within about a month and a half, in February, 2014, the acquisitive company had merged with the e-cigarette company FIN, making FIN a wholly owned subsidiary. Founded in 2011, this e-cig company already had 50 thousand distribution outlets across the US.

Two months later, at the end of April, 2014, Victory emerged as the owner of another British firm, VIP, which offers diversified products including open-end vaping systems and tanks as well as disposables and rechargeables, and sells them in dedicated stores and kiosks, online, and through traditional retail outlets. The following month (May), Victory entered negotiations with the stockholders of British firm Ten Motives, with its broad range of vaping products. That acquisition is in its final stages now, as the Nasdaq offering is becoming available. The company also owns the Victoria and El Rey brands.

Also in 2014, in July, the company changed its name from Victory to the Electronic Cigarette International Group, which fortuitously yields the clever acronym ECIG. Manufacturing facilities remain in China.

The marketing strategy is to offer diversified distribution channels, and a comprehensive portfolio of brands. "By differentiating our products based on appearance, quality, perceived value and price, we provide our retail and distribution partners with a one-stop solution ... across varying price points," announces the investment portfolio. "We ... have strategically positioned our portfolio to serve a diverse set of markets and consumer preferences.... While many of our competitors limit themselves by focusing on a single brand or product type, our product offerings [include] disposables, rechargeables, tanks, starter kits, e-liquids, open and closed-end vaping systems and accessories." Victory functions as the "opening price point," the portfolio explains, while FIN is the "premium offering".

No matter how one feels about monopolistic acquisitiveness, it will be refreshing that vape-bashers will have less justification for saying that Big Tobacco represents the vaping supplies industry.