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BAT share price underperforms as CEO unveils plans to step down

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Shares in British American Tobacco (LON:BAT) have fallen into the red in today’s session, underperforming the broader market, as the company said that its chief executive Nicandro Durante will step down next year. The company meanwhile assured investors that it has found a successor.

As of 09:28 BST, BAT’s share price had given up 0.42 percent to 3,545.00p, underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index currently standing 0.01 percent higher at 7,331.86 points. The group’s shares have lost more than 23 percent of their value over the past year, as compared with a near one-percent rise in the Footsie.

Nicandro Durante to step down

BAT announced in a statement this morning that that after nearly 37 years with the company, and eight years as CEO, Nicandro Durante had informed the Board of his intention to retire on April 1.

Durante “was the architect of the current strategy to transform the business and, with the successful establishment of BAT's potentially reduced risk products business and the acquisition of Reynolds American Inc., he has created a stronger, truly global tobacco and nicotine business,” Richard Burrows, Chairman of BAT, commented in the statement.

The FTSE 100 group noted that its board had been considering  successors for some time and, having reviewed both internal and external candidates, had identified a lead candidate. Sky News said that Jack Bowles, BAT’s chief operating officer, is regarded as the frontrunner to be the company’s new boss, although the chief marketing officer, Andrew Gray, is also rumoured to have been a contender for the role.

Analysts on FTSE 100 group

Goldman Sachs and Berenberg Bank, which both rate BAT as a ‘buy,’ set price targets on the stock today of 5,250p and 4,850p, respectively. According to MarketBeat, the blue-chip tobacco maker currently has a consensus ‘buy’ rating and an average price target of 5,095p.

As of 09:58 BST, Thursday, 20 September, British American Tobacco plc share price is 3,547.50p.

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