British American Tobacco ponders new chairman

Posted on 17 Aug 2009 by The Manufacturer

A former bank governor, Richard Burrows, has been suggested as the possible new chairman of British American Tobacco (BAT).

If the appoinment occurs, it will not be without controversy due to Burrows’ previous role at the embattled Bank of Ireland (BoI). As a result of the economic downturn, the Irish financial institution had to seek capital from the state and Burrows personally apologised to the investors at its last annual meeting for the bank’s poor financial performance.

Burrows, 63, who joined the board of the BoI in 2000 before becoming governor in July 2005, stepped down to be replaced by Pat Molloy, a former chief executive of the bank. The position of chairman will be left vacant by Jan du Plessis, who has taken up a position as chairman of Rio Tinto.

BAT, the world’s second largest cigarette maker, has experienced a highly profitable last five years during which its share price has risen by 130%. BAT announced in July a 16% rise in first-half profits with pre-tax profits rising from £1.8 billion to £2.1 billion and revenue up 24%, from £5.5 billion to £6.8 billion.

Tim Brown