British American Tobacco (BAT) is one of the world's largest tobacco companies, with a presence in over 180 countries and a strong portfolio of global and local brands. Founded in 1902, it is the oldest British-American company, and the second-largest tobacco company in the world, behind Philip Morris International. It manufactures and sells cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products, and operates in four key business areas: tobacco, new categories, Next Generation Products, and Reduced Risk Products.
BAT has a strong presence in the UK, where it holds a market share of over 40%. Its portfolio includes well-known brands such as Dunhill, Lucky Strike, Benson & Hedges, and Rothmans. In addition to cigarettes, BAT also produces and markets a range of smokeless tobacco products, such as snus, as well as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
The company is committed to reducing the harm associated with tobacco use and has invested heavily in research and development to develop Reduced Risk Products, such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. It also has initiatives in place to reduce the environmental impact of its operations and encourage its employees to live healthier lifestyles.
BAT is committed to developing a sustainable business that provides its shareholders with a good return on their investment. It is a member of the FTSE 100 index and its share price has risen significantly in recent years. The company is also an active participant in the global tobacco industry, engaging in lobbying, regulatory, and industry initiatives.
1902: When Sir Hugo inherited the chair, British American's capitalization had quadrupled, and its sales had grown by nearly a factor of 40. The company incorporates in England as British American Tobacco, Limited.
1904: the company’s official history began with the creation of the United Tobacco Company.
1911: the American Tobacco Company sold its share of the company.
1919: Under the management of James Augustus Thomas from Lawsonville, in North Carolina's Rockingham County, the Shanghai factory was producing more than 243 million cigarettes per week.
1923: Sir Hugo held those positions until Duke retired (and died two years later) and then succeeded him as chairman. The company's world sales had grown to 50 billion cigarettes per year. The company begins to decentralise its operations in China and other international operations.
1927: British-American Tobacco reentered the American market by acquiring the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, a small tobacco company that grew to become one of the largest cigarette manufacturers in the United States with such brands as Kool and Viceroy. Under Cunliffe Owen's tutelage, the company continued to expand into Asia, Africa, and Latin America, but also made important investments in Germany and the United States, where it purchased the Brown & Williamson Corporation.
1929: Although the company's earning power dropped after, BAT nevertheless was able to consolidate its position as the world's only true international tobacco firm.
1937: At its peak, BAT manufactured and distributed 55 billion cigarettes in China.
1949: The 1949 communist revolution in China, meanwhile, led to the loss of the company's largest market, and other major setbacks were experienced in Egypt, Indonesia, and India. The company was ejected from China following the foundation of the People's Republic.
1953: The company was ejected from China following the foundation of the People’s Republic.
1962: British American Tobacco's capitalization was such that it was able to begin major moves toward diversification. The company makes its first moves toward diversification, acquiring Mardon Packaging International and Wiggins Teape Ltd., two paper companies.
1965: British American Tobacco, Ltd. begins to acquire perfume houses and department stores.
1970: British-American Tobacco acquired majority control of Wiggins Teape Limited, a paper-products manufacturer.
1971: Beginning of the year it began investing in American department-store chains, eventually buying Marshall Field and Company and Saks Fifth Avenue.
1976: Heidelberg Factory is established as a social upliftment project in an area with low economic growth. The firm was reorganized as a holding company and renamed B.A.T Industries. The company changes its name to BAT Industries Limited.
1978: Appleton Papers was added to the BAT operation.
1979: Gimbels and Saks Fifth Avenue were acquired in the United States, Kohl's and Department Stores International in the United Kingdom, and Argos, the British catalogue store, joined.
1980: According to Sherman Cochran (1980), the company's success in China resulted from its decision not to dump surplus goods, but to invest in the creation of an efficient and vertically-integrated company. Ties with Imperial Tobacco were finally severed when that company sold its remaining few shares in BAT after having made major reductions over the preceding decade.
1982: Within two years of his accession to BAT's chairmanship, Patrick Sheehy decided to add a fourth leg to BAT's existing three supports. BAT acquires Eagle Star, a British insurance group.
1985: Hambro Life Assurance, another large British firm, became Allied Dunbar when it was acquired by BAT.
1986: Only 50 percent of BAT's pre-tax profit came from its tobacco group.
1987: In fact, BAT Industries saw a 26 percent rise in pre-tax profit during the first half of the year, 45 percent of which was due to Eagle Star.
1988: BAT expands its financial services and acquires Farmer's Group Inc. in the United States. Sir James Goldsmith launches a hostile leveraged buyout.
1989: The company repulsed an audacious takeover bid by Hoylake Investments, a consortium of financiers led by James Goldsmith, but the event signalled the end of BAT's almost thirty-year campaign of diversification. The company begins selling off non-tobacco subsidiaries. Beginning in 1971 it began investing in American department-store chains, eventually buying Marshall Field and Company and Saks Fifth Avenue. It entered the field of financial services with the purchase, in 1989, of the insurer Farmers Group Inc.
1990: Sir James' proposed buyout failed in May 1990, when California insurance regulators refused to approve his acquisition of the insurance company, Farmer's Group. The company began to do so in 1990 when it sold or spun off parts or all of the numerous non-tobacco properties.
1993: The company sold one of its financial properties, Eagle Star Levin N.V.
1994: Using the cash proceeds from these sales, BAT began the year to purchase numerous tobacco properties throughout the world. The company begins major tobacco acquisitions.
1998: With its increasing focus on the tobacco business, B.A.T was renamed British American Tobacco PLC. The fall of Soviet communism boosted tobacco sales, and BAT decided to sell its financial services to Allied Zurich and revert to being a purely tobacco-based company.
1999: It merged with Rothmans International, which included a share in a factory in Burma.
2000: The company acquired Canada's dominant tobacco company, Imasco.
2002: BAT lost a lawsuit about the right to sell cigarettes under the Marlboro brand name in the UK. It had acquired Rothmans, which had previously bought a licence to use the name from Philip Morris.
2003: BAT acquired Ente Tabacchi Italiani (ETI) S.p.A., Italy's state tobacco company. This made it the target of criticism from human rights groups. It sold its share of the factory after an "exceptional request" from the British government.
2007: In January, BAT closed its remaining UK production plant in Southampton with the loss of over 600 jobs.
2008: Then BAT acquired Turkey's state-owned cigarette maker Tekel.
2009: Chief Operating Officer Jack Bowles, who joined BAT’s Management Board, is announced as his successor. BAT acquired 60% of Indonesia's Bentoel Group before increasing its stake to 100% the following year.
2011: BAT acquired the Colombian company Productora Tabacalera de Colombia S.A.S. (Protabaco).
2015: In October BAT acquired the Croatian tobacco company TDR d.o.o.
2016: In October, BAT offered to buy the remaining 57.8 percent of United States cigarette maker Reynolds American in a $47 billion takeover that would create the world's biggest listed tobacco company with brands including Newport, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall.
2017: In January, Reynolds agreed to an increased $49.4 billion deal. In April, the company announced the acquisition of a number of Bulgarian cigarette brands from Bulgartabac for more than €100 million.
2018: BAT is one of just 13 companies to be recognised as a Global Top Employer 2018 by the Top Employers Institute. The Group’s 2018 annual and sustainability reports underline BAT’s commitment to ‘transforming tobacco’ by offering an unrivalled suite of potentially reduced-risk products to adult consumers. Quarterly dividend payments Dividend Reinvestment Plan Dividend payments by direct credit 2018 Consolidated tax vouchers
2019: After nearly 37 years with BAT, and eight as CEO Nicandro Durante informs the Board of his intention to retire.
2020: BAT was certified as a Proudly South African company and is the only remaining large-scale local tobacco manufacturer in the country.
2021: Based on ePod, ePen, eTank mini, Alto devices and consumables internal sales forecast (calculated March 2021) for 12 months starting from April. In March, the company bought a stake of close to 20% in the Canada-based cannabis producer OrganiGram for about £126m as part of a diversification strategy.
“To anticipate and satisfy this ever-evolving consumer: provide pleasure, reduce risk, increase choice and stimulate the senses of adult consumers worldwide.”
The company cites its ethos on the website:
“Our ethos is about being bold, fast, empowered, responsible and diverse to create a future-fit culture at BAT.”
According to the website:
“Our vision is to build A Better Tomorrow™ by reducing the health impact of our business through offering a greater choice of enjoyable products for our consumers.”
The company is passionate about pursuing growth and new opportunities while accepting the considered entrepreneurial risk that comes with it.
"Our focus on scientifically-substantiated, reduced-risk tobacco and nicotine products continues – and we will not stop there.
We are expanding our portfolio ‘beyond nicotine’. That means delivering products that stimulate the senses of adult consumers while enhancing satisfaction, enjoyment, and wellbeing.
By driving value from our combustibles business - and simplifying our organisation – we will accelerate this ambitious transformation."
Zafar Aslam Khan (Board Member)
David O'Reilly (Board Member)
E. Dimitri Panayotopoulos (Board Member)
Recognition and Awards
Products and Services
British American Tobacco offers key brands in both the combustible and non-combustible categories:
Reduced-Risk Portfolio (Non-Combustibles): Vuse (Vapour), Glo (tobacco heating), Velo (Modern Oral), Grizzly (traditional oral).
Combustible: Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, Rothmans. Some U.S.-specific brands are: Camel, Natural American Spirit, and Newport.
British American Tobacco also has many international and local cigarette brands which, although not part of its Strategic Portfolio, remain popular in many countries where it operates. These brands include Vogue, Viceroy, Kool, Peter Stuyvesant, Craven A, State Express 555, and Shuang Xi.
Ming Sang Kwan (Board Member)
Tadeu Luiz Marroco (Board Member)