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BAT picks new chairman

LONDON, Aug 19 – British American Tobacco, the world\’s second biggest cigarette maker, said Wednesday it had appointed Richard Burrows, who resigned as head of ailing Bank of Ireland Group, as its new chairman.

The Irishman succeeds Jan du Plessis, who leaves BAT to become chairman of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto.

Burrows takes up his new post on November 1, the maker of Lucky Strike and Dunhill cigarettes said in a statement.

The 63-year-old stepped down in July as chairman of Bank of Ireland Group, apologising for a slump in the company\’s share price that had been battered by a surge in bad debts for BOI amid the global financial crisis.

Burrows, who has spent much of his career in the alcoholic drinks business after leading Irish Distillers and Pernod Ricard, described his latest appointment as "such an exciting opportunity at such a world class company".

Burrows joins a group which recently reported a 16 percent jump in first half net profits to 1.45 billion pounds (1.7 billion euros, 2.4 billion dollars).

BAT also enjoyed a strong rise in revenue following its acquisitions of Danish group Scandinavian Tobacco and Tekel of Turkey in 2008.

Burrows will oversee BAT\’s expansion into emerging markets as smoking bans hurt sales in Western markets. In June the British tobacco giant bought an 85-percent stake in Indonesian peer Bentoel for 494 million dollars.

Burrows was chief executive of Irish Distillers — maker of Jameson Irish whiskey — between 1978 and 2000 and co-chief executive of Pernod Ricard — famous for Ricard anise — between 2000 and 2005.

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At Pernod, he oversaw the French group\’s acquisition of British peer Allied Domecq in 2005 for 13 billion dollars.

"I am genuinely pleased that the Board has found such an outstanding candidate to succeed me as chairman," du Plessis said on Wednesday.

"Richard\’s experience at Pernod Ricard will be tremendously helpful to him in his new role and, with his warm personal style, his appointment will be well received in the company," he added in BAT\’s official statement.

Following news of Burrow\’s appointment, BAT\’s share price fell 1.58 percent to 1,870 pence in early trade on London\’s benchmark FTSE 100, which was down 0.88 percent overall to 4,644.38 points.

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