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Breaking News

New chairman taking over at Imperial

| February 5, 2014

Iain Napier is due to retire as non-executive chairman, and Berge Setrakian is due to retire as a non-executive director at the end of Imperial Tobacco’s annual general meeting, which is being held today.

Deputy chairman Mark Williamson will become chairman, and Michael Herlihy will succeed Williamson as senior independent director. Herlihy will step down as chairman of the remuneration committee and will be succeeded by David Haines.

From tomorrow, Karen Witts is due to become an independent non-executive director of the company and join the audit, remuneration and nominations committees of the board. Witts is group finance director and executive director of Kingfisher PLC.

BAT Zimbabwe: investing in the future

| February 4, 2014

British America Tobacco Zimbabwe has spent more than US$5 million over the past five years in capital investments, according to a story in The Herald quoting the company’s finance director, Peter Doona.

About 50 per cent of the expenditure was invested in manufacturing and Doona said that the company would increase its capital expenditure this year further to enhance its manufacturing capability.

BAT Zimbabwe, which is said to be operating at 65 per cent capacity, accounts for 79 per cent of the local market.

It has close to 100 workers on its payroll and is one of the companies that are complying with the country’s empowerment laws.

Its share Employee Share Ownership Trust (ESOT) was established in compliance with indigenisation legislation aimed at giving employees an opportunity to participate directly in the development and growth of the company.

The Herald story said that, with the establishment of the ESOT, BAT Zimbabwe was effectively transferring more than two million shares to its employees. At the current share price of US$4.50, this equates to close to US$10 million.

Smokers given cigarette price guidance

| February 4, 2014

Egypt’s Ministry of Finance has produced a cigarette price list and consumers are being asked to inform the country’s tax authority if they are asked by retailers to pay more than the list prices, according to a story in the Daily News Egypt.

There would seem to be a discrepancy between some of the prices of cigarettes declared to the authority for the calculation of taxes and the prices charged to consumers.

The head of the tax authority, Mamdouh Omar, said the authority had recently noticed increases in cigarette selling prices that ranged from E£0.5 and E£2 per pack.

About £3 billion in profits from the sale of cigarettes were going directly to retailers without the relevant taxes being paid, he added.

Omar said that there were to be no increases in the retail prices of cigarettes. And he added that manufacturing and import companies would be responsible for setting the selling price and informing the tax authority to determine the taxes due, which amounted to 50 per cent of the selling price plus E£1.25 per pack.

Smoking bans move step closer in Lagos

| February 4, 2014

The Lagos State House of Assembly recently passed a bill seeking to make illegal tobacco smoking in enclosed public places within the state, according to a story in the Vanguard.

The bill is now before Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, who has to sign it before it becomes law.

If signed, the new law will make it illegal to smoke in public places, including libraries, museums, public toilets, schools, hospitals, day-care centres, public transportation and restaurants.

Better youth tobacco prevention program

| February 4, 2014

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co has improved its tobacco prevention program aimed at young people.

In a note posted on its website, the company said that its free, evidence-based youth tobacco prevention program, Right Decisions Right Now: Be Tobacco Free (RDRN), now offered more website features, including Spanish-language posters and parent brochures, smart board activities, improved navigation and optimized videos for easier downloading.

‘RDRN educational materials – readily available via computers and smart boards – are used to teach middle-school students about the risks of using tobacco products,’ it said. ‘The program is designed to empower students to make good decisions, including the decision not to use tobacco, and to give them the knowledge to live a healthy lifestyle.

‘More than 20,000 middle schools across the country have used the RDRN program since it was independently developed more than 20 years ago. The program is also used by community groups such as Boy Scouts of America; Big Brothers, Big Sisters; and the Crosby Scholars Program.’

The note quoted Laura Leigh Oyler, a public-policy director involved in R.J. Reynolds’ youth tobacco prevention efforts, as saying that the improvements to RDRN made the program more user-friendly for the modern classroom and beyond. “RDRN is part of our company’s long-term initiative to transform the tobacco industry,” she said. “Over the past 20 years, youth tobacco prevention efforts and programs have had a big impact on reducing teen smoking, now at a historic low, and we are actively working on ways to accelerate the decline in youth tobacco use.”

Altria acquires Green Smoke

| February 3, 2014

Altria Group’s NuMark subsidiary has acquired the e-vapor business Green Smoke for $110 million in cash plus up to $20 million in incentive payments, reports Wells Fargo Securities.

Posting $40 million revenue in 2013, the majority of Green Smoke’s sales are online in the U.S. The company’s retail sales in convenience stores were $3.9 million last year, according to Nielsen, representing a 0.8 percent market share.

According to Wells Fargo, Green Smoke presents an opportunity for Altria to develop a portfolio of e-vapor brands to complement its existing MarkTen e-vapor product. Green Smokes products are bigger and have stronger batteries than MarkTens, and they don’t look like traditional cigarettes.

Wells Fargo believes Altria can leverage its sales force, retailer relationships and marketing expertise to quickly bring broader distribution to Green Smoke.

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