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UK cigarette giant exits Russia

British American Tobacco at one point controlled nearly a quarter of the country’s market

UK multinational British American Tobacco (BAT) has finalized a deal to sell its Russian and Belarusian businesses, the company announced on Thursday. 

“The buyer is a consortium led by members of BAT Russia’s management team which, upon completion, will wholly own both businesses. Post completion, these businesses will be known as the ITMS Group,” the tobacco giant said in a statement. 

According to BAT, the transaction is being carried out in compliance with local and international laws and will be completed within the next month. 

British American Tobacco began working in the Russian market in 1991. The company launched local production of cigarettes in 1994. Its portfolio includes brands such as Dunhill, Kent, Vogue, Rothmans, Pall Mall, Lucky Strike and Java. 

In Russia, the company runs a factory in St. Petersburg, several offices across the country and an enterprise dealing with marketing and sales. One estimate of the volume of investment put into the Russian market is $1 billion. 

READ MORE: Tobacco giant to quit Russia

In March 2022, BAT announced plans to continue selling its products in Russia but to stop investing in the local operations. At the time, the company controlled just under 25% of the Russian tobacco market and employed around 2,500 people. Earlier this year, however, the tobacco major said that it was looking to exit Russia and transfer its assets to a local buyer. 

The company has joined a mass exodus of international corporate giants amid intense international pressure and in line with Western sanctions against Russia over the conflict Ukraine.

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