Tobacco giant opens new offices in Geneva

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 27 Oct, 2015 Updated Tue 27 Oct 2015 19:32 CEST
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The world’s third largest tobacco company opened its headquarters in Geneva on Tuesday in the same international precinct that houses the World Health Organization’s offices.

Japan Tobacco International’s new glass and steel building, also next to the headquarters of the World Meteorological Organization, will bring together employees previously spread across three offices.

The nine-storey structure with almost 28,000 square metres of floor space was designed by the London office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Inc., known notably for the One World Trade Center in New York and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

The building features cantilevered sections that allow pedestrians to pass through a landscaped central courtyard with a reflecting pool.

“This is a very important step for our company,” American expat Thomas A. McCoy, JTI’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

McCoy said the building, which took three years to build, “confirms our commitment and loyalty to Geneva, where our company’s presence goes back nearly half a century”.

Built by Implenia, the Swiss construction company, it meets Swiss environmental (Minergie) standards and includes a geothermal heating system, the company said in a news release.

In addition to a panoramic restaurant, the building houses a fitness centre and a conference facility.

“This unique building will permanently alter Geneva’s urban landscape,” Pierre Maudet, Geneva cantonal economy and security minister, among the dignitaries attending the opening ceremony, said in a statement.

The building was budgeted to cost 150 million francs ($152 million) but the final bill is above that, according to an online report from Bilan magazine. 

Alongside the new headquarters, the company operates in partnership with the city of Geneva a 104-place daycare centre, which opened in August.

With 26,000 employees worldwide, JTI is the subsidiary of parent company Japan Tobacco (JT), based in Tokyo.

It was created in 1999 when JT bought the non-US operations of tobacco multinational RJ Reynolds for $7.8 billion.

It subsequently doubled in size after the acquisition of UK-based Gallaher in 2007 for £9.4 billion.

With cigarette brands that include Winston, Camel and Benson & Hedges, it sold the equivalent of 398 billion cigarettes last year and raked in around $11.9 billion in revenue. 

Asked about JTI's relations with WHO, McCoy said: "We have good relations but many disagreements," Bilan reported.

The company's president said he was not hostile to regulation of tobacco, which he acknowledged carries health risks, adding that he wanted to cooperate with governments.

Bilan noted that, according to WHO figures, tobacco causes six million premature deaths around the world annually. 



The Local 2015/10/27 19:32

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