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Archive for April, 2013

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Sales up, profits mixed at Swedish Match

| April 30, 2013

swedish-match-snusSwedish Match’s sales increased by 2 percent to SEK2.98 billion ($460 million) during the first quarter of fiscal 2013. In local currencies, sales for the first quarter increased by 5 percent.

Operating profit from product areas for the first quarter declined by 8 percent to SEK832 million. In local currencies, operating profit from product areas for the first quarter declined by 6 percent.

Including the group’s share of net profit in STG and larger one-time items, operating profit increased by 6 percent to SEK1.03 billion for the first quarter. This figure includes an additional capital gain of SEK159 million on the disposal of the former head office site in Stockholm.

Swedish Match also announced the launch of several snus products in Sweden, including a new Kaliber in the value segment and a new Kronan in the mid-price segment. The company also introduced a new General Tailored White, which uses a proprietary technology to create a softer mouth feel while reducing weight.

 

Imperial latest to hop aboard e-cig train

| April 30, 2013

Imperial Tobacco, the world’s fourth-largest cigarette group by market share, said it had set up a venture to develop e-cigarettes, as it battles an increasingly tough consumer environment in Europe.

The company said Fontem Ventures would look into areas such as e-vapor cigarettes, according to a story published by Reuters.

“We’re looking at opportunities and we’re actively developing in that area at the moment,” CEO Alison Cooper said on Tuesday, adding that the company would be “open-minded” to making acquisitions.

E-cigarettes –battery-powered metal tubes that turn nicotine-laced liquid into vapor– are gaining popularity among smokers trying to quit. Rival British American Tobacco set up Nicoventures, in 2011 to develop such products.

Imperial has been combating falling smoker numbers in developed countries and rising black market trade in countries such as Spain and France by raising prices, cutting costs and focusing on emerging markets, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The company said full-year earnings per share growth would be at the lower end of its 4–8 percent target range due to such challenges. Analysts had been expecting Imperial to post a 5.6 percent rise, Reuters data showed.

Video interview: Imperial Tobacco’s half-year 2013 results.

| April 30, 2013

CEO Alison Cooper and Financial Director Bob Dyrbus comment on Imperial Tobacco Group’s half-year 2013 results. The video was created by Merchantcantos, a provider of financial news about FTSE100 and FTSE250 companies.

OLAF report: no evidence against Dalli

| April 29, 2013

EU anti-fraud office OLAF had no hard evidence that former health commissioner John Dalli tried to solicit a bribe from a tobacco firm.

The information comes from its confidential report into the Dalli case, part of which was leaked on Sunday, April 28, by the MaltaToday news agency.

In his cover letter to the paper, dated October 17, OLAF chief Giovanni Kessler said: “There is no conclusive evidence of the direct participation of commissioner John Dalli either as instigator or as mastermind of the operation of requesting money in exchange for the promised political services.”

Dalli lost his post last year over allegations he used a middleman to ask tobacco firm Swedish Match for millions of euros to change EU legislation, according to a story published by EUobserver.com

Sale of Swedish Match’s mouth tobacco, snus, is banned in every member state except Sweden. Dalli’s task was – his accusers claim – to lift the ban in exchange for money.

The deal was allegedly brokered by Silvio Zammit (a Maltese local politician and restaurant owner with close ties to Dalli) and Gayle Kimberley (a Malta-based consultant hired by Swedish Match) at a meeting in February 2012. Dalli says he had nothing to do with Zammit’s scheme.

While the OLAF report admits there is no incriminating evidence, it still makes Dalli look bad. It says he attempted to muddle evidence and was most likely aware of Zammit’s plan.

Dalli met Zammit in February just three days before Zammit allegedly asked Kimberley for the money on Dalli’s behalf. Dalli initially denied his Zammit meeting took place, but changed his story later on.

OLAF also says Dalli met directly with tobacco lobbyists who “have a personal interest in a matter within his portfolio” in breach of the EU commissioners’ code of conduct.

He first met with Zammit and with the European Smokeless Tobacco Council (ESTOC) in August 2010. He met again with Zammit and Kimberley in January 2012.

When questioned by OLAF on what went on at the various events, Dalli tried to hide “content relevant to the issue at stake.”

The OLAF report states “the inconsistency of commissioner John Dalli’s statements together with the findings of this investigation relating to him, could be seen as a serious breach of duty to behave in keeping with the dignity and the duties of his office.”

It adds: “there are a number of unambiguous and converging circumstantial items of evidence gathered in the course of the investigation, indicating that … Dalli was actually aware of both the machinations of Silvio Zammit and the fact that the latter was using his name and position to gain financial advantages.”

The report contradicts some recent statements made by euro-deputies. French Green MEP Jose Bove in March this year met with Swedish Match employees Johan Gabrielsson and Cecilia Kindstrand-Isaksson.

He said they told him the February 2012 meeting where Zammit allegedly asked Kimberley for the bribe never took place. They also told Bove that OLAF instructed Kimberley to lie about it in order to build its case.

OLAF denies this. Its leaked report faithfully records that Kimberley made “contradictory” statements about her relations with Zammit and Gabrielsson.

The former head of the commission’s legal service, Michel Petite – whose new employer, law firm Clifford Chance, works for tobacco giant Philip Morris – also played a prominent role in the affair.

The OLAF report says Petite met with his former colleague — the commission’s top civil servant, Catherine Day – to pass on Swedish Match’s bribery allegations, prompting the OLAF probe.

The report quotes another Swedish Match employee, Frederik Peyron, as saying: “We started planning for how to report this matter to the relevant EU authorities and contacted Michel Petite at Clifford Chance to receive advice. At our request, he contacted Catherine Day, and we submitted a written report on the matter.”

For German conservative MEP Ingeborg Graessle, the leaked report shows OLAF itself in a bad light.

“Despite missing some important pages, the document confirms the impression of a biased and partly amateurish investigation by OLAF,” she said on Monday.

“The part of the report now accessible is full of speculation, assertions and obviously uncritical repetition of witness accounts,” she added.

The Brussels-based pro-transparency NGO, Corporate Europe Observatory, agreed with her.

“It looks as if OLAF has selectively compiled arguments to support that Dalli had behaved inappropriately, without considering the credibility of the witnesses,” it said on Monday.

It described the Petite-Day relationship as “shocking.”

Coresta announces scientific meetings

| April 26, 2013

Coresta’s smoke-techno meeting will take place at the Metropol-Parasol Convention Center in Seville, Spain, Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 2013. Hosted by the Imperial Tobacco Group, this is a joint meeting of the organization’s Smoke Science and Product Technology study groups.

Coresta’s agro-phyto meeting will take place Oct. 13-17, 2013, at the Borgobrufa spa resort in Torgiano, Italy. The meeting, which brings together the organization’s Agronomy & Leaf Integrity and Phytopathology & Genetics study groups, is organized by Deltafina, an affiliate of Universal Leaf Tobacco Co., with the active support of Philip Morris Italia and the Confederazione Nazionale Coltivatori Diretti.

More details are available at www.coresta-ap2013.org and www.coresta-sspt2013.org.

 

 

 

Riley to replace Nelson as head of Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco

| April 26, 2013

Cigarette maker Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. will have a new president starting  May 1, taking the reins from Chris Nelson who is retiring effective on the same date.

In an emailed statement, the company said Nelson will be succeeded by Paul Riley, another company veteran, as PMFTC president.

“Chris has long expressed his desire to retire after 10 years in the Philippines with PMPMI (Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing) and PMFTC and more than 27 years in Philip Morris International,” the PMFTC statement read.

Nelson is a 32-year veteran in the tobacco industry. He will be retiring in the Philippines.

Riley joined Philip Morris in Australia in 1988 and “assumed roles of increasing responsibility” in Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan and recently as managing director of  the PMI affiliate in the Republic of Serbia, Montenegro and Central Europe South.