Japan Tobacco International, which in fact is the international arm of Japanese company Japan Tobacco, was formed in 1999 when the Japanese company bought off the international business of the American tobacco company R.J. Reynolds for the amount of $7.8 billion. The newly formed company set up its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and has consolidated its position as a leading firm in the global tobacco industry having in its product’s list famous cigarette brands such as Winston, Mild Seven, Camel, Benson & Hedges, Silk Cut, Glamour and Sobranie.
Japan Tobacco was first established in 1898 as the state company holding the monopoly in the Japanese tobacco industry and manufacturing cigarettes and other tobacco products catering for the needs of the Japanese smokers. This was done through brands made and promoted exclusively in Japan and unknown to the smokers in the rest of the world.
The turning point in the history of the company was the huge success of its charcoal filter cigarette, the Mild Seven, which was initially launched in the Japanese market in 1977. This brand became hugely popular instantly and climbed in the number one position in the local market, a place it holds until today. Seeing the immense popularity of this particular brand the company decide to become international and in 1981 introduced the Mild Seven to the global market.
Japan Tobacco became a public company in 1985 when the Japanese authorities decided to terminate the state monopoly in the tobacco industry. Soon after that, in the early 1990s, the company began its global expansion through the acquisition of numerous tobacco companies located in Russia as well as in Tanzania. However, its most decisive move was the acquisition of the R. J. Reynolds international operations in 1999, which has meant the acquisition of many hugely popular brands, such as Winston and Camel. Ever since the company has kept growing and expanding and in 2007 it bought the Gallaher Group in a move that constituted the largest acquisition ever by a Japanese company.
Through such moves Japan Tobacco International has managed to become the most rapidly growing tobacco company in the world. It currently employs over 20.000 people all over the world and maintains 80 office centers and 30 manufacturing factories. Moreover, it sells its products in more than 120 countries across the globe and owns more than 11% market share in the global market. This is mostly the result of owning three of the top five best selling cigarette brands worldwide, namely Camel, Winston and Mild Seven.