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22.04.2004 Business & Finance

BAT declares profit of 34 billion cedis

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Takoradi April 21,- GNA - The British American Tobacco (BAT) Ghana has declared an after tax profit of 34 billion cedis for the 2003 financial year, Dr Kobina Richardson, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Company, announced on Wednesday.

Addressing the 51st Annual General Meeting of the company in Takoradi, he said shareholders are therefore, to receive a total dividend of 24 point 5 billion cedis or 354 cedis per share. Dr Richardson said the company's share price, which grew by 519 point 48 percent, was the third highest performer on the Ghana Stock Exchange in 2003.

He said the company "welcomes such investor confidence in our business" and assured stakeholders of the company's "commitment to relentlessly grow share value".

Dr Richardson said the company's contributions to government revenue from excise and VAT increased by 27 percent to 221 billion cedis in 2003 adding that other improvements in financial performance include 28 percent increase in turnover to 402 billion cedis and earning of 1 point 5 million United States dollars from export of surplus locally grown tobacco.

While commending the government for promoting a favourable economic climate, which impacted positively on the company's operations, he appealed that the company should be involved in the process of developing a sensible regulatory framework for tobacco.

Dr Richardson said the Ministry of Health has drawn up a Tobacco Control Bill, which is expected to be laid before Parliament during the year.

He said, "We remain confident that Parliament will pass a bill which will address both the concerns of the society as well as ensuring the company's right to produce and market a legal product to adult consumers.

Mr. Bernard Mavambu, the Managing Director, said the company recorded an 8 point 7 percent sales volume growth over 2002, well above a target of 6 percent.

He attributed the volume growth to creation of new retail outlets, the provision of branded trade furniture and new pack designs for Rothmans and Diplomat brands, which enhanced the availability of the products by more than 30 percent. Mr Mavambu said expenditure on human resources development increased

by 15 percent in 2003 because "we believe in training and developing our

staff to prepare them to step up to roles of higher responsibility". He said the company also awarded eight new scholarships to needy but brilliant undergraduates in 2003, bringing the total number of current beneficiaries of BAT scholarships in the five state universities to 16. Mr Mavambu said company has also committed to donating computer equipment worth 100 million cedis to the University of Development Studies this year.

He said in 2003, BAT was recognised and awarded by the Ghana Employers Association for being the third best trainer in the country. Mr Mavambu said the company has so far planted about 311,040 fast growing tree species on 194 hectares around Weija Lake to protect a major source of water supply to Accra.

To sustain the project, a community education campaign is to be launched this year to sensitise the residents about environmental conservation, he said.