You are here
Board: BAT offers expertise, guidance
There are many benefits of West Indian Tobacco (Witco) being a subsidiary of British American Tobacco (BAT). Jean-Pierre Du Coudray, managing director, Witco, declared this in a statement to the Guardian via e-mail on Tuesday. He was reinforcing statements made by chairman Anthony Philip last Thursday when Witco presented its 2010 annual report at its annual general meeting at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel, Port-of-Spain. Shareholders had raised questions about the extent of payments made by Witco to its parent company BAT. Witco is part of the BAT Group, the world’s second largest listed tobacco group by global market share, with brands sold in more than 180 markets and leadership in more than 50 markets.
The group has more than 56,000 people associated with it around the world and are associated with 49 factories operating in 41 countries, one of which operates in Trinidad. Du Coudray stated in 2010, Witco paid $42.5 million in technical and advisory services to BAT. This was an increase from $31.558 in 2009.
He justified these figures by outlining some of the BAT services Witco uses. “This is as payment for research and development, information technology infrastructure, marketing advice and expertise, and legal guidance, which is critical within the current business environment and is essential for the successful operations locally.”
Du Coudray said Witco has to make the best effort to look after shareholders’ interests, utilising and leveraging the expertise in the group. He said there are many benefits to being part of the BAT Group. “We can tap in to many synergies offered to us. We have access to the know-how, expertise and computer services, which allow us to function efficiently. These include research and development, marketing expertise and IT infrastructure, which are necessary for the successful operations locally,” he said. Speaking about the governance structure, du Coudray said the board of directors and executive of Witco are responsible for the decision-making of the company. “Our parent company, British American Tobacco, provides support and advice upon request and in accordance with our contractual arrangements.”
Philip last Thursday also pointed out BAT’s influence in Witco’s choice for auditor for the company.
“More than 20 years ago, BAT head office in England elected PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) as auditor because of the synergistic links with subsidiary companies throughout the world. PWC are the auditors for BAT and they became the auditors for Witco more than 20 years ago. That’s the history.
“This allows the parent company again to monitor the governance of their subsidiaries to apply the same level of consistency which is applicable on the UK Stock Exchange through an audit stream that goes all the way down to T&T with the same auditors. It’s the same throughout the world where PWC operates,” Philip said.
In the chairman’s statement in the 2010 annual report, Philip also recognised BAT’s help in assisting Witco in dealing with enactment of tobacco legislation last year which increased regulation of the tobacco industry. “Witco, as a member of the BAT Group, had access to international expertise for a smooth and steady transition since several international group companies had already adjusted their business operations to the requirements of tobacco control legislation,” he said.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.