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Board and corporate governance

We are fortunate to have a board of the highest quality and integrity with a good balance of skills and experience. Nevertheless, at a time of growing public scrutiny and developments such as the Higgs Review, we want to be sure we meet the most exacting standards of governance while recognising the sometimes different expectations of shareholders in different jurisdictions.

To address the requirements of the new Combined Code on directors’ independence, we’re strengthening the balance of independent representation on the board and its committees. Mike Levett will not be seeking re-election at the forthcoming annual general meeting and we have used this opportunity to invite a new independent director, John Manzoni, to join the board and he will take office from 1 August 2004. Lord Renwick will hand over the chairmanship of the remuneration committee to Miles Morland, classified as an independent director and I will step down as a member of the committee. Louis Camilleri will step down from the board to concentrate on his executive duties in Altria Group, Inc. Full details of the changes are outlined in the corporate governance report.

Mike Levett has made an enormous contribution in his 20 years with the company, first on the South African and then on the UK board. He leaves with our gratitude and best wishes for the future. I would also like to thank Louis Camilleri for providing advice and support to the management and to recognise his crucial role in the Miller transaction. We welcome, most warmly, John Manzoni to the board.

We also said goodbye during the year to former board members Pete Lloyd and Mike Simms, both of whom retired from the company having made tremendous contributions to our South African operations and, more recently, to building our business around the world.

In a year of outstanding results, I must also thank the 39,500 employees of our operating companies. They are the ones who have made it all possible and the board and I are grateful for their skills and hard work. In thanking them, we also salute our business partners whose local knowledge and expertise have made such a difference, especially in newer markets such as China and India.

In summary, the last five years have seen your company grow and develop beyond all recognition. Despite the many challenges we face in an uncertain world, the strategy continues on course and we look to the future with confidence.

Signature of Meyer Kahn

Meyer Kahn

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Picture of Meyer Kahn - Chairman
Meyer Kahn