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BAT shares up on Bush victory
Thursday December 14, 2000
LONDON, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Shares in British American Tobacco Plc rose on Thursday on hopes U.S. President-elect George W. Bush would be less hostile toward the industry than Al Gore, analysts said.
``The Bush victory means there's very little prospect of future litigation against tobacco,'' one analyst said.
Shares in BAT were up 4-3/4 pence or one percent to 492-1/2p by 1118 GMT, having earlier gained nearly three percent.
That echoed an overnight rise in Marlboro maker Philip Morris Cos Inc (NYSE:MO - news), which gained $2-1/2 or 6.5 percent at $40-13/16. RJ Reynolds Tobacco Holdings (NYSE:RJR - news) gained $4-1/4 or 10.2 percent to $45-15/16.
Analysts said they saw Bush as more tobacco-friendly than Vice President Al Gore, who conceded defeat in the U.S. presidential race on Wednesday. They said they expected Bush would support reforms making it harder to sue tobacco companies in court.
They also said he was unlikely to support a federal racketeering lawsuit the U.S. Department of Justice filed against major U.S. tobacco companies, including BAT's U.S. unit Brown & Williamson (B&W). The suit was set to go to trial in 2003.
``Al Gore would have been more interventionist,'' one analyst said.
U.S. smokers have also filed a class-action lawsuit in New York state demanding compensation from major tobacco companies, including B&W. They said deceptive marketing practices led to their addiction, but their case has yet to go to trial.
B&W -- maker of brands including Kool and Lucky Strike -- is the third largest U.S. cigarette maker.
Just last month, the Florida Supreme Court in a separate case ruled against B&W, ordering the company to pay $750,000 stemming from a 1996 product liability lawsuit.
The company has said it will seek a rehearing on the case and was considering appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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