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British American Tobacco Plc ( , , KLSE: BAT) is a leading global tobacco company. It is based in Londonmarker, United Kingdommarker and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.


The company's current form has its origins in 1902, when the United Kingdom's Imperial Tobacco Company and the American Tobacco Companymarker of the USAmarker agreed to form a joint venture, the British-American Tobacco Company Ltd. The parent companies agreed not to trade in each other's domestic territory and to assign trademarks, export businesses and overseas subsidiaries to the joint venture. James 'Buck' Duke became its chairman. The British American Tobacco business thus began life in countries as diverse as Canadamarker, Chinamarker, Germany, South Africa, New Zealandmarker and Australia, but not in the United Kingdom or USA.

In 1911 the American Tobacco Company sold its share of the company. Imperial Tobacco gradually reduced its shareholding, but it was not until 1980 that it divested its remaining interests in the company.

In 1976 the group companies were reorganised under a new holding company, B.A.T Industries. In 1994 BAT acquired its former parent, American Tobacco Company (though reorganised after anti-trust proceedings). This brought the Lucky Strike and Pall Mall brands into BAT's portfolio.

In 1999 it acquired Rothmans International, which included a share in a factory in Burmamarker. This made it the target of criticism from human rights groups. It sold its share of the factory on 6 November 2003 after an "exceptional request" from the British government.

In 2003, BAT acquired Ente Tabacchi Italiani (ETI) S.p.A, Italy's state tobacco company. The important acquisition would elevate BAT to the number two position in Italymarker, the second largest tobacco market in the European Union. The scale of the enlarged operations would bring significant opportunities to compete and grow ETI's local brands and BAT's international brands.

In January 2007, BAT closed its remaining UK production plant in Southamptonmarker with the loss of over 600 jobs. However, the global Research and Development operation and some financial functions will continue on the site.

In 2008 BAT acquired Turkey's state-owned cigarette maker Tekel. In July 2008, BAT acquired the cigarette and snus operations of the Scandinavian Tobacco Company.

Tobacco brands

One of British American Tobacco's most popular products "Lucky Strike"
International Brands include Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, Vogue, Rothmans, Peter Stuyvesant, Benson & Hedges, Winfield, John Player, State Express 555, KOOL, and Viceroy. However, British American Tobacco does not necessarily own the rights to all of these brands in every nation they are marketed.

Local brands owned by British American Tobacco include, Belmont (Chilemarker and Venezuelamarker), Jockey Club (Argentinamarker), Stradbroke (Australia), Souza Cruz (Brazilmarker), du Maurier (Canada), Prince (Denmarkmarker), North State (Finlandmarker), HB (Germany), Sopianaemarker (Hungarymarker), Wills (Indiamarker), Ardath (Indonesiamarker), Carrolls, Carrolls Kings, Grand Parade, Black Allen (Germany), Sweet Afton, Major (Irelandmarker), Boots, Alas (Mexicomarker), Gold Leaf (Pakistanmarker), Jan III Sobieski (Polandmarker), Yava Gold (Russiamarker), Courtleigh (South Africa), Parisienne (Switzerlandmarker), Maltepe (Turkeymarker) and Xon (Uzbekistanmarker), Craven A (Vietnammarker and Jamaicamarker) as well as BAT snus, Holiday, Freedom and Park Drive (New Zealand) Royals (UK)

On 11 June 2006, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company announced that it would be manufacturing Camel brand snus in Swedenmarker in partnership with British American Tobacco; the product would be test-marketed in Portland, Oregonmarker and Austin, Texasmarker by the end of the month.

Other operations

BAT has diversified into various fields at different times in its history. Its U.S. retail division, BATUS Retail Group, acquired Gimbel's, Kohl's, and Saks Fifth Avenue in the 1970s and Marshall Field'smarker and its divisions in 1982. The United Kingdom retail chain Argos was purchased in 1979. Kohl's grocery stores were sold to A&P in 1983. In 1986, BATUS sold the Kohl's department stores and two Marshall Field's divisions, The Crescent and Frederick & Nelson; BATUS closed Gimbel's the same year, with many locations being absorbed by sister division Marshall Field's. In 1990 Marshall Field's was sold to Dayton Hudson Corporation (now Target Corporation), Ivey's (another Marshall Field's division) was sold to Dillard's, Saks Fifth Avenue was sold to Investcorp S.A., and Argos was demerged (Argos was acquired by previous parent company GUS plc in 1998).

The group was a major financial services company with the acquisitions of Eagle Star (1984), Allied Dunbar (1985) and the Farmers Group, Inc. (1988). Around 1996 British American Tobacco merged their financial operations into a single operating unit, British American Financial Services (BAFS). This division was merged with Zurich Insurance Company in 1998 to form the Zurich Financial Services Group. B.A.T still owns the minority interest in Zurich.

Senior management

Paul Adams has been chief executive since January 2004. His total annual compensation for this role is £2,092,257, consisting of a £1,076,641 salary and a £1,015,616 bonus.

Advertising and promotion

BAT have found many imaginative ways over the years to keep its brands in the public eye. Indian Tobacco Company, in which BAT holds a minority share, as recently as 1996 secured an arrangement to sponsor the Cricket World Cup which was branded the "Wills World Cup" and thereby achieved a high level of brand recognition for the Wills cigarette brand in India where young cricket fans were a key target market.

BAT also sponsor the London Symphony Orchestra.

Motor sport

The success of Formula One motor racing has largely been built on tobacco sponsorship, including that of BAT. In 1997 BAT brought its participation in the sport to new levels with the purchase of the Tyrrell team for approximately £30 million. The team raced as Tyrrell for the 1998 season before being renamed as British American Racing (BAR). BAT used the team to advertise major brands, particularly Lucky Strike and State Express 555.

Although Formula One is an exceptionally expensive sport, for BAT the high cost of running an F1 team was justified as a promotional expense because there were few other opportunities for brand promotion. However in 2005 a European Union (EU) directive was brought into force which required national governments to legislate to prevent tobacco sponsorship. The livery of cars competing at circuits outside of EU jurisdiction can continue (in some cases) to promote tobacco brands but these opportunities are declining as anti-tobacco legislation begins to bite.

In 2004 BAR announced that technology partner Honda had purchased a 45% stake and in September 2005 it announced that Honda would be buying the remaining 55% stake. The team raced as Honda Racing F1 Team in 2006, the last year of the Lucky Strike sponsorship before leaving the sport. For the 2006 season, the team was renamed as Honda F1 Racing Team, with BAT only advertised at a couple of races. All links between the two companies were severed for 2007.


In 2008 the company was the subject of a BBC2 documentary, in which Duncan Bannatyne investigated the marketing practices of the company in Africa and specifically the way the company targets younger Africans with branded music events, competitions and the sale of single cigarette sticks. Many of the practices uncovered by Bannatyne appeared to break BAT's own code of conduct and company standards. Towards the end of the programme, Bannatyne interviewed Dr Chris Proctor, Head of Science and Regulation, in which Proctor admitted that advertisements targeting children from three African countries were 'disappointing'.
The revenues earned by the British American tobacco company may discourage the media from reporting on the hazards that smoking can possibly have. The less developed countries in the world are neglected this information about the hazards of smoking and the side effects, and are taken advantage of. In many of these undeveloped countries, the awareness of health risks from smoking is very low or nonexistent.

British American Tobacco was declared the winner of the 2008 Roger Award, the award for the worst transnational corporationoperating in New Zealandmarker.

British American Tobacco spent more than €700,000 lobbying the EU in 2008, up to four times as much as the company declared on the EU's register of interest representatives, according to a report by Corporate Europe Observatory. The report argues that BAT's hidden lobbying activities, which are clearly not in the public interest, should be exposed to public scrutiny.


  1. British American Tobacco: Our History
  2. British American Tobacco: The Early Years 1902-1932
  3. BAT in Court to defend American Tobacco deal
  4. Rothmans acquisition backed by BAT unit
  5. Tobacco Giant withdraws from Burma
  6. BAT intends to acquire Italian tobacco firm
  7. BAT closing two UK and Ireland factories
  8. Tobacco company ready for growth after sale (02.07.08)
  9. Reynolds Makes Big Move Into Smokeless Tobacco
  10. Eagle Star at Euroarchive
  11. Zurich to pay BAT $18.6bn for finance units
  12. Scorecard: Wills World Cup
  13. London Symphony Orchestra
  14. Constructors: BAR
  15. Tobacco advertising ban takes effect on 31 July
  16. BAT exits Formula 1 tobacco sponsorship
  17. Bannatyne takes on Big Tobacco
  18. Kenyon Rainier Stebbins, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Jun., 2001), pp. 147-170
  19. Roger Awards: British American Tobacco NZ Ltd Wins

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