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BATB accused of anti-competitive practices

24 Jan 2022. Japan Tobacco International (JTI) filed a case against British American Tobacco Bangladesh (BATB) last year, which is now being investigated by the Bangladesh Competition Commission (BCC), reports The Daily Star.

JTI entered Bangladesh’s tobacco market by acquiring United Dhaka Tobacco Company Ltd (UDTCL) three years ago and filed its complaint of anti-competitive practices against BATB last March. According to The Daily Star, UDTCL’s market share has dropped from 19.8 per cent to 12.6 per cent since it was acquired by JTI, which the company alleges is due to BATB’s anti-competitive practices.

According to a 2019 study, BATB has more than a 95 per cent share in the premium and high segment of the market and 65 per cent and 58 per cent in the medium and low segments respectively.

JTI claims that BATB operates diverse programmes with its retailers penalising them if they sell or stock UDTCL products. Retailers could have loyalty points deducted or be excluded from lucrative incentives or BATB could even threaten to stop supplying them, JTI claims.

"BAT Bangladesh has been doing business in this country for more than 110 years by complying to all rules and regulations of the country. Apart from being the highest tax payer, we have received multiple accolades from the government for our benchmark governance and business practices. Commission's process is ongoing in this matter," Sheikh Shabab Ahmed, head of external affairs of BAT Bangladesh responded to the allegations.

Md Mofizul Islam, the chairperson of the Competition Commission, says the commission is investigating the case and that there will be a hearing and the verdict will follow soon after.