Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world. Asia's Most Profitable Cigarette Maker Faces Cheap Cigar Flood Ceylon Tobacco says tax increases to narrow profit margins Smokers seen switching to leaf-rolled products like beedis British American Tobacco Plc ’s unit in Sri Lanka says it’s poised to lose its dominant position in the market to leaf-rolled cigars made by small local rivals. Ceylon Tobacco Co. ’s profit margin will continue to narrow as an increase in levies on cigarettes prompts some smokers to switch to the cheaper alternative, said Emma Ridley, finance director of the Colombo-based BAT unit. The company’s operating profit margin , the highest among listed Asian peers, narrowed to 64 percent in 2016 from 67 percent a year earlier in a cigarette market estimated at about $1.1 billion. The gap between the price of cigarettes and beedis, cheap tobacco wrapped in a coarse leaf, has widened after the government raised excise duties and slapped a 15 percent value-added tax last year. The lowest-priced offering sold by Ceylon Tobacco -- the only licensed manufacturer of cigarettes -- is about four times more expensive than leaf-rolled products, which are produced by a segment of the industry that’s relatively less regulated and has seen smaller increases in levies. “In 2017, we foresee the beedi industry capturing at least half the tobacco market, posing a serious threat to the legal cigarette industry,” said Ridley. “As the affordability of legally manufactured cigarettes continues to diminish, more consumers are expected to downgrade to this cheaper alternative.” Beedis accounted for about 44 percent of the total tobacco market last year, up from 20 percent in 2007, Ridley said.
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metropolitan areas, and 30- to 45-second spot ads will be shown on the ABC, CBS and NBC television networks. In North Carolina, the newspaper ads will be published only in Charlotte. The ads are projected to cost several millions of dollars for each manufacturer. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. said Tuesday that it could cost $20 million to comply. Reynolds spokesman David Howard said Reynolds remains the entity obligated to comply with the court order even though it is now the U.S. subsidiary of British American Tobacco PLC. “R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., along with the other parties, including the U.S.