History of British American Tobacco (BAT)

British American Tobacco was 'born international'. British American Tobacco has been in business for more than 100 years, trading through the turbulence of wars, revolutions and nationalizations as well as all the controversy surrounding smoking.
The business was formed in 1902, as a joint venture between the UK’s Imperial Tobacco Company and the American Tobacco Company founded by James ‘Buck’ Duke.

Despite its name, derived from the home bases of its two founding companies, British American Tobacco was established to trade outside both the UK and the USA, and grew from its roots in dozens of countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and continental Europe.

We were ‘born international’, and have developed over a century’s expertise in operating locally in diverse cultures around the world.

Recent past: 1969 – now
Millennium celebrations at British American Tobacco's London headquarters

By 1970, British American Tobacco has operations in 50 countries.

Diversification with the creation of BAT Industries in the late 1970s and the expansion into financial services in the 1980s gives way by 1989 to a re-focus on the tobacco business.

By 1970, under new Chairman Richard Dobson, British American Tobacco companies are manufacturing in 140 factories across 50 countries. Two years later, with the revocation of its 1902 agreement with Imperial, it gains exclusive ownership of its original brands, including State Express, in the UK and Western Europe.

In the company’s quest for another significant business, British American Tobacco finally settles on retailing where acquisition in the seventies includes Argos in the UK and Saks Fifth Avenue in the United States.

In 1976, the Group undergoes radical reorganization. With a new Chairman, Peter Macadam, operations are coordinated under a new holding company, B.A.T Industries. Within two years, Industries is the UK’s third largest company and the largest tobacco manufacturer in the free world with annual sales of 500 billion cigarettes.

As the company celebrates its 75th anniversary in 1977, Macadam comments: “We have survived two world wars, the loss of our China business, [and] dispossession in numerous places elsewhere…and we have come through stronger and, I believe, better poised today than we have ever been.”

Meanwhile, Brown & Williamson opens its new US$150 million factory in Macon, Georgia. By the end of the decade, British American Tobacco exports the first batch of cigarettes to China since the nationalization of its operations there 30 years before.
By the end of the decade, with its acquisition of Lorillard’s international business, the Group acquires several more key brands, including Kent.

By 1981, trading profits from the tobacco operations have tripled over the previous decade to more than £463 million as production capacity steadily increases.

With the acquisition of Eagle Star in 1984, Allied Dunbar the following year, and the Farmers Group in 1988, BAT Industries is by 1989 the largest UK-based insurance group. The same year, with a 24 per cent pre-tax profit increase to more than £2 billion and confronted by a hostile takeover bid, BAT Industries decides to re-focus exclusively on tobacco and financial services and dispose of almost everything else.

Into the new millennium
The merger with Rothmans is followed by a major change to the Group’s interests in the Canadian market, now the largest generator of profit for the Group. During 2000, Rothmans' Canadian interests are sold, while the outstanding shares in Imasco, an associate of British American Tobacco, are purchased and its non-tobacco interests are sold. Now a wholly-owned subsidiary focused solely on tobacco, the Canadian operation is known as Imperial Tobacco Canada.

In 2001, the Group announces a series of new investments in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Vietnam, South Korea and Nigeria.

British American Tobacco celebrates its centenary in 2002. It reaffirms its faith in its people, its products and the tobacco industry as a whole with new investments in Nigeria, South Korea and Turkey. That same year, it becomes the first tobacco company to publish a Social Report.

The following year British American Tobacco gains control of Peru’s Tabacalera Nacional and wins bids for Italy’s former state tobacco monopoly, ETI, and Serbia’s Duvanska Industrija Vranje. It also announces proposals to combine the US business of Brown & Williamson, its US subsidiary, with RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company.

In November 2003 Martin Broughton discloses that he plans to retire from British American Tobacco at the end of June 2004 after 10 years leading the Group as Chief Executive and, for the last five, as Chairman.
Paul Adams takes over as Chief Executive of the Group in July 2004, with Jan du Plessis as Non-Executive Chairman.
In 2004 the US business of Brown & Williamson and RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company are combined and Reynolds American is formed – a stronger, more sustainable business in which British American Tobacco has a 42% share.
In 2005 British American Tobacco trials Swedish-style snus in Sweden and South Africa, giving smokers the chance to enjoy a less harmful form of tobacco, without lighting up.
The number of snus outlets in the two countries extends in 2006. The year also sees the sale of the Toscano cigar business in Italy. In October the Group exits Formula One motor sport sponsorship - a long-standing commitment consistent with the International Marketing Standards subscribed to in 2001.
2007 sees snus test marketing extended to Canada and the sale of a number of our pipe tobacco trademarks to Danish company Orlik Tobacco Company. In May we sell our Belgian cigar factory and associated brands to the cigars division of Skandinavisk Tobakskompagni.

Acquisitions come to the fore in 2008 with our winning US$1.72 billion bid for the assets of Tekel, the Turkish state tobacco company.  It is quickly followed by a deal to acquire the cigarette and snus businesses of Skandinavisk Tobakskompagni.

British American Tobacco Bangladesh (BATB)

British American Tobacco Bangladesh (BATB) is one of the oldest and largest blue chip multinational companies operating in Bangladesh. The British American Group holds 65.91% share in the company. The Government owns 26.57% through several of its agencies, while 7.52% is owned by other stakeholders.
We are a leading business organization in the industrial sector employing more than 1,300 employees directly and a further 40,000 indirectly as farmers, distributors and suppliers. We have business contracts directly with around 32,500 registered farmers who produce high quality tobacco leaf.