2)China National Tobacco Company: The largest cigarette company in the world, China National Tobacco Company is owned and managed by the Chinese government, and sells 1.5 trillion cigarettes annually, all in China.
Philip Morris International (PM): Philip Morris is best known for its Marlboro brand and is the best selling cigarette brand in the world.
Japan Tobacco International (JAPAF): This company owns and manages three of the top five intentional cigarette brands, Winston, Camel, and Mild Seven, as well as other cigarette brands and tobacco products.
Altria Group (MO): Altria sells brands such as Marlboro, Copenhagen, Skoal and Black & Mild, through its four operating companies, Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, and John Middleton. In addition to cigarettes and tobacco products, Altria sells premium wines through Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and has a 25.8% ownership stake in SABMiller.
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT-LN): The company has sales in over 160 countries and a portfolio of brands, led by Davidoff.
The company was formed in 1902, when the United Kingdom's Imperial Tobacco Company and the American Tobacco Company of the United States agreed to form a joint venture, the British-American Tobacco Company Ltd. The parent companies agreed not to trade in each other's domestic territory and to assign trademarks, export businesses and overseas subsidiaries to the joint venture. James Buchanan Duke became its chairman and the British American Tobacco business began life in countries as diverse as Canada, China, Germany, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, but not in the United Kingdom or in the United States.
In China, BAT inherited a factory in the Pudongdistrict of Shanghai from W.D. & H.O. Wills, one of the precursor companies of Imperial Tobacco. Under the management of James Augustus Thomas from Rockingham, North Carolina, USA, by 1919 the Shanghai factory was producing more than 243 million cigarettes per week. Thomas worked closely with the local Wing Tai Vo Tobacco Company, which developed into BAT's principal Chinese partner after its success with the "Ruby Queen" cigarette brand.
In 1911 the American Tobacco Company sold its share of the company. Imperial Tobacco gradually reduced its shareholding, but it was not until 1980 that it divested its remaining interests in the company.
At its peak, in 1937 BAT manufactured and distributed 55 billion cigarettes in China. The company's assets were seized by the Japanese in 1941 following their 1937 invasion. In 1953 the company was ejected from China following the foundation of the People's Republic.
In 1976 the group companies were reorganised under a new holding company, B.A.T Industries. In 1994 BAT acquired its former parent, American Tobacco Company (though reorganised after anti-trust proceedings). This brought the Lucky Strike and Pall Mall brands into BAT's portfolio.
In 1999 it merged with Rothmans International, which included a share in a factory in Burma. This made it the target of criticism from human rights groups. It sold its share of the factory on 6 November 2003 after an "exceptional request" from the British government.
In 2002, BAT lost a lawsuit about the right to sell cigarettes under the Marlboro brand name in the UK. It had acquired Rothmans, which had previously bought a licence to use the name from Philip Morris. Philip Morris' attorneys invoked a get-out clause for the case of a major change of ownership.
In 2003, BAT acquired Ente Tabacchi Italiani (ETI) S.p.A, Italy's state tobacco company. The important acquisition would elevate BAT to the number two position in Italy, the second largest tobacco market in the European Union. The scale of the enlarged operations would bring significant opportunities to compete and grow ETI's local brands and BAT's international brands.
In August 2003, BAT acquired a 67.8% holding in the Serbian tobacco company Duvanska Industrija Vranje (DIV), allowing local manufacture of its brands, freeing them from import duties. In the longer term, export opportunities are planned as neighbouring countries in south east Europe developed free trade agreements.
In July 2004 the U.S. business of British American Tobacco (Brown & Williamson) was combined with that of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (R. J. Reynolds), under the R. J. Reynolds name. R. J. Reynolds and Brown & Williamson were the second and third-ranking U.S. tobacco companies prior to the combination. When they combined, R. J. Reynolds became a subsidiary of Reynolds American, with BAT holding a 42% share of RAI. In January 2007, BAT closed its remaining UK production plant in Southampton with the loss of over 600 jobs. However, the global Research and Development operation and some financial functions will continue on the site. Then in 2008 BAT acquired Turkey's state-owned cigarette maker Tekel. In July 2008, BAT acquired the cigarette and snus operations of the Scandinavian Tobacco Company.
BAT acquired 60% of Indonesia's Bentoel Group in 2009 before increasing its stake to 100% the following year.
In May 2011 BAT acquired the Colombian company Productora Tabacalera de Tabacos S.A. (Protabaco).