Imperial Tobacco Group: UK and German tobacco market dwindle

By Margarita Snegireva. Europe's second-largest publicly traded cigarette maker Imperial Tobacco Group Plc reported that the U.K. and German tobacco markets dwindled last year on England's smoking ban and higher taxes in Germany .

The U.K. cigarette market contracted 4 percent by volume in the 12 months through December, the Bristol, England-based company said today in a Regulatory News Service statement. Imperial accounts for almost half of the British market and about a fifth of that in Germany , where the tobacco market declined 6 percent.

Imperial this month finished buying Altadis SA, the Spanish maker of Gauloises cigarettes, for 12.6 billion euros ($19 billion) to reduce its reliance on those shrinking markets. The company, whose Lambert & Butler brand is the top seller in Britain, may bid for Turkish cigarette maker Tekel, Chief Executive Officer Gareth Davis said last week.

Imperial Tobacco Group PLC is the world's fourth largest international tobacco company and the only tobacco manufacturer in the UK where it is also market leader. It is the second largest UK-based tobacco company by global sales. It is Germany's second largest tobacco company following its purchase of Reemtsma Cigarettenfabriken GmbH in 2003 which added brands such as Davidoff, Peter Stuyvesant and West to its portfolio. In 2007 Imperial Tobacco entered the United States tobacco market with its $1.9 billion acquisition of Commonwealth Brands Inc, the fourth largest tobacco company in the US. Imperial Tobacco's corporate headquarters are in Bristol, England. It has more than 30 factories operating around the world, and employs some 14,500 people.

For the year ended 30 September 2006 Imperial Tobacco had a turnover of £11.676 billion, or £3.162 billion excluding tobacco duty. It made a profit before tax of £1.168 billion.

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