Largest Cigarette Producer in Azerbaijan to Hold Larger Share in Internal Market by Mid-2009

Azerbaijan, Baku, 4 September/ Trend , corr I. Khalilova/ European Tobacco Baku has begun production of light cigarettes, Rufat Guliyev, chairman of Board of Directors of the company said.

"It was necessitated by the more counter-smoking campaigns in Azerbaijan that were launched recently and we explained foreign founders that it is necessary to introduce new technologies to produce more light cigarettes," Guluyev said.

On the other hand, Azerbaijanis prefer world brand because of the fast economic growth rates and better well-being of the population. It concerns alcoholic drinks, cigarettes and other tobacco goods and motor transport, he said.

"Moreover, we try to hold one third of the market which is not a bad indicator for the national production under the conditions of globalization," Guluyev added.

European Tobacco has not received proposals from other cigarette producers worldwide to organize production under their brand in Azerbaijan therefore, we have to rely mainly on the national brands. Head of the company hopes that his company will improve its positions in the local market by mid-2009.

"We stabilized situation in the company thanks to the loan of International Bank of Azerbaijan granted in 2002," Guluyev said.

The loan is repaid due to the income of European Tobacco. Loan worth $8mln was secured in 2002 with four-year period. At present, this finance is used as a circulating capital.

European Tobacco Baku has been privatized in 1999 by Sorex Management Incorporated. The investor obtained 92.5% of the shares in 2002.

The correspondent can be contacted at: [email protected]

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