New B.A.T brands likely to hit India

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CALCUTTA -- British tobacco giant B.A.T Industries will license key cigarette brands to its Indian affiliate ITC Ltd. for local production and marketing in India.

"B.A.T and ITC have signed an agreement on licensing of B.A.T brands to ITC, subject to approval by the Government of India," ITC said in a brief statement. State Express 555 and Benson & Hedges, favored by many Indians, are likely to be among other premium brands to be launched here.

Owner of a 31.7% interest in Calcutta-based ITC, B.A.T was long keen to enter the Indian market. But friction with ITC over B.A.T's attempts to raise its shareholding to a majority 51% delayed the British marketer's plans to introduce international cigarette brands in India.

The B.A.T products will be the first international brands to launch in India after Britain's Pall Mall International in 1995 ended a licensing agreement with a local marketer to make cigarettes for domestic consumption. Tobacco Exporters International, a subsidiary of Pall Mall, is surveying the market for possibilities to re-enter.

Copyright June 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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