(Adds details on strategic committee; changes headline)
LONDON Nov 29 Japan Tobacco, the
world's third-largest tobacco company, announced management
changes on Tuesday designed to accelerate the growth of its
international business, which is under pressure to join industry
The maker of Winston, Camel and Benson & Hedges cigarettes
is set to be dwarfed by its next biggest rival, British American
Tobacco, which is in talks to buy Reynolds American
in the United States.
Analysts say that takeover could spark further deals as
Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco jostle for market share
in an industry that is shrinking in Western markets as more
people quit smoking.
Japan Tobacco named Belgian national Eddy Pirard as new
chief executive of its international business, replacing Thomas
McCoy, who will retire on March 31.
Pirard has led Japan Tobacco International's merger strategy
worldwide, including the acquisition of Natural American Spirit
outside the United States and also an investment in NTE in
It also announced the creation of a new "global tobacco
strategic committee" to facilitate growth of the tobacco
business and named a new president for Japan. It said that would
free up the president of the overall tobacco business to focus
on global strategy.
Jefferies analysts have predicted that Japan Tobacco would
make a takeover bid for Imperial Brands within the next
12 months, and said on Tuesday that the management changes made
this more feasible.
"This should lead to greater focus on global M&A
opportunities," Jefferies said in a note.
(Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Mark Potter and Jane