BAT Butts Into China's Tobacco Market

Rivals are puffing to catch up now that the British tobacco giant has become the first foreign company granted full access to the world's biggest market

With an estimated 350 million smokers, China has been the tantalizing, unattainable prize beckoning Big Tobacco. The three largest multinationals -- America's Philip Morris (MO ), Britain's British American Tobacco (BAT), and Japan Tobacco -- have pined for access to the Chinese market, which has been largely closed to outsiders since the Communists nationalized foreign-owned tobacco operations after coming to power in 1949.

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