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JT’s domestic volume sales down in November

| December 12, 2014

Japan Tobacco Inc’s domestic cigarette sales volume during November, at 8.7 billion, was down by 8.8 percent on that of November 2013, 9.5 billion, according to preliminary figures issued by the company today. The November 2013 figure was down by 0.9 percent on that of November 2012.

Volume during January-November, at 102.2 billion, was down by 3.7 percent on that of January-November 2013, 106.1 billion, which was down by 0.5 per cent on that of January-November 2012.

JT’s market share stood at 60.1 percent during November, at 60.4 percent during January-November and at 60.5 percent during January-December 2013.

JT’s domestic cigarette revenue during November, at ¥49.0 billion, was down by 5.8 percent from its November 2013 level, ¥52.0 billion.

Revenue during January-November, at ¥573.4 billion, was down by 1.6 percent on that of January-November 2013, ¥582.6 billion.

Health body seeks higher tobacco prices in China

| December 11, 2014

China is considering raising tobacco taxes and cigarette prices to reduce the number of smokers in the country, according to a Xinhua News Agency story.

Yao Hongwen, of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, was said to have told a press conference yesterday that the commission would work together with other agencies to push hard for a tax increase.

“China is now on the course of fiscal and tax reform, which provides us with a rare chance to take advantage to raise tobacco taxes and prices for tobacco control,” said Yao.

The Chinese government raised tobacco taxes in 2009, but a report published by the World Health Organization in May said the increase had had no impact on tobacco consumption because it had not been passed on to the consumer.

The report said tobacco was very cheap in China and had become even more affordable in recent times as average incomes had risen along with China’s rapid economic growth and development.

French MPs vote down ‘automatic’ tax increase

| December 11, 2014

Cigarette prices in France will remain unchanged in the new year after MPs voted to throw out a planned 30 cent tax rise, according to a story in The Connexion.

The change of heart by the National Assembly came after intense lobbying by tobacconists and manufacturers.

The automatic tax rise had been due to come into force on January 1 but has now been struck out by an amendment to the law.

It means the cheapest pack of 20 cigarettes will stay at €6.50, with more expensive brands retailing at about €7.00.

Socialist MP Razzy Hammadi said that if the increase had been applied it would have widened the price gap between French cigarettes and those in neighbouring EU states, which would have encouraged more smokers to buy abroad.

Further €60 million for Iggesund mill investments

| December 11, 2014

The board of the Holmen Group, which includes Iggesund Paperboard, yesterday gave the green light for investments totalling €60 million in Iggesund’s mills at Iggesund, Sweden and Workington, England.

At Iggesund, the investments will be aimed at eliminating bottlenecks in pulp production so it can be increased from the current 370,000 tonnes to 420,000 tonnes annually. The board mill, meanwhile, aims to increase capacity by 10 percent without investments.

“After we brought the new recovery boiler on line and developed our purification systems for both air and water, the mill now has unused potential in both the pulp and board mill, which we can activate,” said Olov Winblad von Walter, director of the Iggesund mill. “This is exciting because we are taking yet another step towards being one of the world’s leaders in mill technology with the lowest environmental impact. This move also further reinforces our competitiveness in the form of lower variable costs.”

The investment at Workington will increase the mill’s paperboard production capacity from the current 200,000 tonnes to 220,000 tonnes annually. Iggesund says that this investment will make the mill a leader in folding box board technology because it will provide the funds to rebuild the paperboard machine’s press section, an upgrade that will increase product quality. The rebuild will be completed by June 2016.

“We are experiencing strong demand for our improved Incada, not least because European converters regard it as the paperboard with the best runnability for applications involving mass-market consumer products,” said Ulf Löfgren, managing director of the Workington mill. “In that situation of course it is positive that we can increase our capacity so more people can benefit from Incada’s advantages.”

And Arvid Sundblad, vice president sales and marketing at Iggesund, said the company saw no difficulty in increasing Incada’s presence in Europe. “Our market share has been limited by our capacity,” he said. “The planned capacity increase combined with Incada’s recognised quality and our service gives us an excellent position.”

Over a five-year period Iggesund Paperboard had invested strongly in strengthening its competitiveness via lower energy costs, while simultaneously minimising its use of fossil fuels, Iggesund said in a press note. ‘A total of €361 million has been used for this purpose in both Workington and Iggesund. The investments announced now are more focused on increasing production.’

“We have reduced our environmental impact and also taken control of our energy costs,” Sundblad said. “We are well equipped to face tougher competition in the paperboard market but above all with regard to other types of packaging material. Our strategy is organic growth, and for Workington this is the first step in that direction. The announced investments will give us an excellent market position in terms of both product quality and capacity.”

Camilleri to serve as PMI retiree chairman

| December 11, 2014

The board of directors of Philip Morris International yesterday declared a regular quarterly dividend of $1.00 per common share, payable on January 9 to stockholders of record as of December 24.

The ex-dividend date is December 22.

Meanwhile, PMI said that the chairman of the board, Louis C. Camilleri, would retire from employment with the company on December 31, from which time he would serve as a non-employee chairman.

In this capacity, Camilleri would continue unchanged his role of facilitating communication between the board and management, assisting the CEO in matters of long-term business strategy, and presiding at shareholder and board meetings.

PMI said Camilleri’s retirement would not affect his leadership role as chairman and that his pension benefits would be preserved at present levels, which would otherwise have been reduced under the company’s pension formula.

Altria declares dividend

| December 11, 2014

Altria said yesterday that its board of directors had declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.52 per common share, payable on January 9 to shareholders of record as of December 24.

The ex-dividend date is December 22.

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