Imperial Brands CEO Alison Cooper to step down

A company logo sits on a sign standing outside the Imperial Brands Plc headquarter offices in Bristol, U.K., on Monday, July 2, 2018. Imperial Brands Plc is launching a vaping product to compete with Juul Labs Inc., as Cooper steps up efforts to reassure investors that smoking alternatives are an opportunity rather than a threat. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty ImagesImperial Brands Plc Chief Executive Officer Alison Cooper will step down once a replacement is found, the maker of Winston and Gauloises cigarettes announced on Thursday.The departure of Cooper, who has led the company for nine years, comes days after it issued a full-year profit warning blaming the U.S. regulatory crackdown on vaping.Cooper is one of just five female CEOs among Britain’s top 100 listed companies. In July the company announced that it would drop its 10% dividend growth target from next year to focus on developing its e-cigarette portfolio as traditional smoking wanes. This added to investor woes as stocks such as Imperial have historically been sought after for their high earnings and dividend payments.While the search for a successor continues, Cooper will focus on driving the performance of the business, including the asset divestment program, from which the company expects to realize proceeds of up to 2 billion pounds ($2.46 billion) by May 2020, the company said in a statement. Cooper’s departure is the second high profile exit for the company this year.It announced in February that Chairman Mark Williamson would step down once a successor was found citing new British guidelines on the length of board chair tenures.

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