Imperial Brands tobacco boss says it can stand alone with cost cuts

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Imperial Brands chief Alison Cooper today shrugged off talk the smoking firm will be broken up or taken over in the wake of its arch-rival unveiling a mega-merger.

Three weeks ago BAT unveiled a $47 billion (£38 billion) bid to buy Reynolds American. City analysts speculate that Imps will have to follow suit, perhaps by teaming up with Japan Tobacco International, which makes Silk Cut.

Unveiling another jump in profits and payouts to investors, Cooper (pictured) agreed that “further consolidation” in the industry is possible, but far from inevitable.

She described the BAT deal as “very expected”. “Clearly we love the US market so we understand the interest in the US. Our US business has done extremely well.”

Sales for the year rose nearly 9% to £27.6 billion, with profits up 12% to £2.23 billion. The dividend is up 10% at 155.2p a share, the eighth year running it has risen. Like rivals, Imps is investing to crack the vaping sector, focusing on the four biggest markets — Italy, Germany, the US and the UK.

Today it laid out a plan for the “next decade of growth”, insisting that with cost cuts and investment in top brands it can have an independent future.

Imps shares rose 101.5p to 3701.5p, leaving the company valued at £35 billion.

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November 9, 2016 |
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