BAT sells Italian Etinera for £590m

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British American Tobacco has agreed to sell Etinera, the distribution business of its Italian subsidiary, for £590m cash.

British American Tobacco has agreed to sell Etinera, the distribution business of its Italian subsidiary, for £590m cash.

Under the terms of the deal, 96 per cent of Etinera will be bought by Altadis, the Franco-Spanish tobacco group behind Gitanes and Gauloises cigarettes. The remaining 4 per cent will be bought by Axiter, an affiliate of Italy's largest trade association, Confcommercio.

BAT acquired Etinera when it bought the former state-owned tobacco group Enti Tabacchi Italini last year.

However, the majority of Etinera's profits comes from distributing products in Italy for BAT's rival, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes Philip Morris.

Analysts said that the buyers made "a very positive acquisition". Fernando Garcia, at Espirito Santo bank in Madrid, said: "The price is on the low side. BAT had to sell and there cannot have been many buyers out there."

Etinera employs 228 staff and distributes to 58,000 tobacco shops in Italy, the second-biggest tobacco market in Western Europe. Last year, it had sales of €194m.

Altadis said the deal would lift its profits by more than 2 per cent from next year.

The deal is subject to approval by the Italian government and competition authorities.

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