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Kenyan to take reins as BAT boss Beverley Spencer exits

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The British American Tobacco Kenya Industrial Area plant in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

British American Tobacco Kenya #ticker: BAT has named a Kenyan to head the cigarette-maker as it marks over 113 years in the market.

The firm on Monday announced Crispin Achola as its new managing director effective January 1, 2021, replacing Beverley Spencer-Obatoyinbo.

Mr Achola, who had previously worked at BAT for 19 years before exiting in 2017, makes a comeback and will head the cigarette-maker that entered Kenya in 1907.

Between 1993 to date, BAT Kenya has had nine CEOs, all of them foreign. The firm was listed on Nairobi Securities Exchange in 1969 but available disclosures are from 1993.

Mr Achola is an executive with regional experience spanning over 15 years, 12 of which he served in BAT—both in Kenya and outside.

He first joined BAT in 2005 as the head of marketing in East Africa and rose through the ranks to become the marketing director for BAT Democratic Republic of Congo, and managing director BAT Mozambique.

Mr Achola also served as the general manager for BAT Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi clusters and exited in 2016 as the BAT general manager for Sudan.

His latest assignment was at Kimberly-Clark Corporation where he served as the general manager for the West, East and Central Africa.

BAT said on Monday that Ms Spencer’s term had come to an end but will continue serving in an advisory role for some time to ensure smooth transition to Mr Achola's administration. 

She leaves at a time the firm has stepped up efficiency by putting more than two-thirds of its machines on the integrated work systems programme.

However, the company faces a rising tax burden and heightened criticism of its planned manufacturing of nicotine pouches as an alternative to traditional cigarettes.

Other previous BAT Kenya managing directors in the last 27 years include Keith Gretton, Chris Burrel, Gary Fagan, Nicolas Maistre, Simon Welford, JD Pike, I Hussain and T P McDowell.