Cigar maker Prime Time files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing taxes, USDA dispute

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Cigar maker Prime Time International Co. is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it deals with increased taxes and a dispute with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Phoenix company filed for bankruptcy protection on Saturday. Prime Time makes and distributes cigars, other tobacco products, and energy drinks. It says a 2009 increase in taxes on little cigars badly hurt its business. Prime Time is also involved in a legal dispute with the Agriculture Department, which says the company owes it $11.7 million.

Prime Time says JPMorgan Chase has refused to refinance an outstanding loan and sent a default notice to the company.

Prime Time says its products are sold in about 100,000 convenience stores in North America. It has about $40 million in annual revenue and 73 employees.