• April 21, 2024

BAT Faces Lawsuits Over Impairment

 BAT Faces Lawsuits Over Impairment

Image: Vitalii Vodolazskyi

Image: Vitalii Vodolazskyi

BAT is facing potential shareholder lawsuits targeting the $31.5 billion write-down in the fair market value of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.’s traditional cigarette brands, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

The write-down was disclosed in early December 2023. BAT changed the value status of Newport, Camel, Pall Mall and Natural American Spirit to “finite” from “indefinite.” The value lifespan of these brands has shifted to about 30 years from “perpetual,” according to Tadeu Marroco, BAT CEO, in the company’s fiscal 2023 financial update.

Multiple law firms, including Rosen Law Firm and Kuznicki Law, are soliciting plaintiffs for a class-action lawsuit. Some firms have cited a deadline of March 25, but a new round of solicitations has been made this week.

The law firms are requesting a class-action period of Feb. 9 to Dec. 6 for purchasers of BAT’s publicly traded securities.

BAT and certain unnamed current and former executives are potential defendants.

The potential lawsuits claim that BAT “made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that BAT materially understated the risks and potential likelihood of an impairment to its premium American cigarette brands as a result of various longstanding headwinds.”

Following the write-down, investors sent share prices down 9 percent.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, an indefinite value “has no expiration date barring any significant legal, regulatory, contractual, competitive, economic or other factors that limit its useful life to the reporting entity.” A finite value typically covers brands whose worth is likely to decline over time.

Reynolds has been under increasing pressure from BAT to improve overall traditional cigarette performance. According to Marroco, BAT’s “performance in U.S. combustibles (traditional cigarettes) has been disappointing. Returning combustibles to consistent value creation is critical to our multi-category strategy in the U.S.”