Cigar company owned by Speaker-Designate José Oliva acquired by Belgian cigar maker

by | Jul 1, 2016

Oliva Cigar Co., the Miami Lakes-based cigar maker owned by State Rep. José Oliva (R-Miami Lakes) and his family, has been acquired by Belgian cigar manufacturer J. Cortès. The sale closed on June 30 and is effective on July 1.

Oliva, the Speaker-designate for the Florida House starting in 2018, is well-known for bringing his family cigars to political events and charitable fundraisers, or even just offering one to guests who stop by the rental home he shares with other legislators in Tallahassee.

Fortunately for Oliva — and the many Florida politicos who have enjoyed Oliva cigars — the company is remaining intact, as a separate brand, with Oliva and the rest of his family staying on in their current roles to manage the company.

When they founded the company in 1995, Oliva and his brothers drew inspiration from their father, Gilberto Oliva, Sr., who had grown cigar tobacco in his native Cuba and also in Honduras and Nicaragua. Now the company has made the family millionaires. The Miami Herald reported that Oliva listed a net worth of $12 million on his financial disclosures last year, with an annual income from his shares in the company of $1.2 million. Their top-rated cigar, the “Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado,” was honored as Cigar Aficionado’s 2014 Cigar of the Year.

The press release from J. Cortès announcing the acquisition emphasized the family-run nature of two companies that are both run “with passion, craftsmanship and humility,” and praised how Oliva cigars are still rolled by hand: J. Cortès makes about 500 million cigars annually, the majority of which are sold in Europe, and the Oliva acquisition gives them an American presence for the first time.

“Oliva Cigars is a fantastic, well-run business with strong brands and plenty of future opportunities,” said J. Cortès CEO Frederik Vandermarliere. “This acquisition allows us to further strengthen both businesses’ strategy and to stay focused on brands, people and dedication to great products for cigar lovers.”

Oliva was pleased that the terms of the acquisition would keep his team intact. Oliva Cigars currently employs 1,115 people in Florida and Nicaragua.

“As a family, it was important to us to be part of a company who’s spirit and culture is much like our own,” said Oliva. “A company that appreciates and wants to continue working with our entire team. It is a new and exciting chapter for our company.”

Frederik Vandermarliere, Gilberto Oliva Jr., and José Oliva

J. Cortés CEO Frederik Vandermarliere, Gilberto Oliva Jr., and José Oliva

Cigar Aficionado reported that negotiations between the two companies had been going on for the past six months. Combined, they will have an annual revenue of $100 million.

J. Cortès posted a short YouTube video promoting the acquisition as “a story of two families, united by passion.”

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.

Photo credit: Oliva Cigar Co. via Facebook.



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