Stock Market

British American Tobacco commits to London stock market despite Sunak’s smoking ban

The tobacco giant behind Lucky Strike has committed to the London stock market despite Rishi Sunak’s plan to ban smoking in the UK.

Tadeu Marroco, chief executive of British American Tobacco (BAT), branded the idea of shifting the company’s listing from London to New York a “distraction”.

He told the Financial Times he was “not sure the benefit would be as evident as some suggest”, adding: “There is nothing to suggest that it’s a no-brainer to go to the US.”

BAT’s commitment to the UK comes even as the prime minister pushes ahead with plans to make Britain a smoke-free nation.

The proposed laws, which were unveiled at the Conservative Party conference in October, would phase out smoking by increasing the legal age of sale by one year every year from 2027 onwards.

The plans were modelled on a similar policy in New Zealand, though this has since been ripped up by the country’s new coalition government.

Mr Marroco’s comments will also provide a much-needed fillip to the London Stock Exchange, which is battling against an exodus of companies defecting to New York.

Building materials company CRH, betting giant Flutter Entertainment, packaging supplier Smurfit Kappa and travel group Tui are among the companies that have moved their main listing to the US or Frankfurt in recent months as they look to tap into a larger pool of capital.

The tobacco chief acknowledged that London was struggling to attract listings, but cited advantages of remaining in the UK.

He said: “If you have a shareholding of a UK [listed company] and you are located outside, you don’t pay withholding tax on your dividends, which is different from the US.”

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