In 1911 the American Tobacco Company sold its share of the company. Imperial Tobacco gradually reduced its shareholding, but it was not until 1980 that it divested its remaining interests in the company.
In 1976 the group companies were reorganised under a new holding company, B.A.T Industries. In 1994 BAT acquired its former parent, American Tobacco Company (though reorganised after anti-trust proceedings). This brought the Lucky Strike and Pall Mall brands into BAT's portfolio.
In 1999 it acquired Rothmans International, which included a share in a factory in Burma. This made it the target of criticism from human rights groups. It sold its share of the factory on 6 November 2003 after an "exceptional request" from the British government.
In 2003, BAT acquired Ente Tabacchi Italiani (ETI) S.p.A, Italy's state tobacco company. The important acquisition would elevate BAT to the number two position in Italy, the second largest tobacco market in the European Union. The scale of the enlarged operations would bring significant opportunities to compete and grow ETI's local brands and BAT's international brands.
In January 2007, BAT closed its remaining UK production plant in Southampton with the loss of over 600 jobs. However, the global Research and Development operation and some financial functions will continue on the site.
Local brands owned by British American Tobacco include, Belmont (Chile and Venezuela), Jockey Club (Argentina), Stradbroke (Australia), du Maurier (Canada), Prince (Denmark), North State (Finland), HB (Germany), Sopianae (Hungary), Wills (India), Ardath (Indonesia), Carrolls, Carrolls Kings, Grand Parade, Sweet Afton, Major (Ireland), Boots,[Alas] (Mexico), Gold Leaf (Pakistan), Jan III Sobieski (Poland), Yava Gold (Russia), Courtleigh (South Africa), Parisienne (Switzerland), and Xon (Uzbekistan), Craven A (Vietnam and Jamaica) as well as BAT snus, Holiday, Freedom and Park Drive (New Zealand)
On 11 June 2006, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company announced that it would be manufacturing Camel brand snus in Sweden in partnership with British American Tobacco; the product would be test-marketed in Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas by the end of the month.
The group was a major financial services company with the acquisitions of Eagle Star (1984), Allied Dunbar (1985) and the Farmers Group, Inc. (1988). Around 1996 British American Tobacco merged their financial operations into a single operating unit, British American Financial Services (BAFS). This division was sold and merged with Zurich Insurance Company in 1998 to form the Zurich Financial Services Group.
BAT also sponsor the London Symphony Orchestra.
Although Formula One is an exceptionally expensive sport, for BAT the high cost of running an F1 team was justified as a promotional expense because there were few other opportunities for brand promotion. However in 2005 a European Union (EU) directive was brought into force which required national governments to legislate to prevent tobacco sponsorship. The livery of cars competing at circuits outside of EU jurisdiction can continue (in some cases) to promote tobacco brands but these opportunities are declining as anti-tobacco legislation begins to bite.
In 2004 BAR announced that technology partner Honda had purchased a 45% stake and in September 2005 it announced that Honda would be buying the remaining 55% stake. The team raced as Honda Racing F1 Team in 2006, the last year of the Lucky Strike sponsorship before leaving the sport. For the 2006 season, the team was renamed as Honda F1 Racing Team, with BAT only advertised at a couple of races. All links between the two companies were severed for 2007.