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British American Tobacco CEO Speaks on Consolidation

LONDON — Consolidation has been the name of the game in the retail industry over the past few years. However, one global tobacco company does not see the trend hitting the major international players in the field.

British American Tobacco (BAT) plc's chief executive told Reuters he does not expect any "big consolidation" among the world's top four tobacco companies in the next few years. Instead, CEO Nicandro Durante said BAT would look for smaller "bolt-on" acquisitions, particularly in Africa and Asia.

His statement quiets any talk that BAT was a potential buyer of Imperial Brands plc, which was formerly known as Imperial Tobacco Group plc. Japan Tobacco and Philip Morris International Inc. were also named among the interested parties in media accounts this past fall, as CSNews Online previously reported.

"Do I expect something like that in the short to medium term? The answer is 'no'," Durante told the news agency. "If you ask me the question: What's going to happen in the long term? Nobody knows."

Any major consolidation among global tobacco companies would face challenges, including each one is present in markets where buying Imperial would take their share over regulators' monopoly thresholds, the report added.

London-based BAT's brand portfolio includes Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall and Rothmans.

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