British American Tobacco - Jerome Abelman

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Jerome Abelman

Director, Legal and External Affairs and General Counsel

I was appointed Director, Legal and External Affairs (LEX) and General Counsel in May 2015, having joined the Management Board as Group Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Director in January of the same year. 

In my role, I work with my leadership team to identify the strategic priorities which LEX managers should consider depending on their local environment – across areas including legal, compliance and regulation – in order to support the delivery of the Group strategy.

A Better Tomorrow™

Our A Better Tomorrow™ vision is about much more than our products. It’s about having a balanced mindset. We must continue to excel in combustibles and use the benefit of that excellence by investing in a part of the business that we think will continue to grow into the future.

My single biggest priority is our ‘Delivery with Integrity’ programme. This programme, led by the Business Conduct and Compliance team within LEX, is about ensuring that everyone at BAT recognises that they are responsible for working to the highest standards of corporate conduct and ethical values at all times, everywhere we operate.

I grew up in New York and attended university in New Orleans, Louisiana. I’m a member of the Bar in New York and the District of Columbia and have had a number of legal roIes in my time with BAT. I was also a member of the Board of Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) from February 2016 until the acquisition of RAI in July 2017.

My first experience of BAT was when I was on secondment from a New York City law firm to London in 2001. Little did I know I’d still be with the company all these years later! I joined BAT full-time in 2002 when I became General Counsel for the Australasian group of companies, based in Sydney.

One of the things that enticed me to BAT was the company’s diversity – of people, backgrounds, cultures and geographies. That diversity remains one of the great things about working here.

Nationality: American

Career to date

  • 1997: Joins Chadbourne & Parke LLP, working in the litigation department, based between London and New York. Clients include BAT companies
  • 2002: Joins BAT in Sydney, Australia as Area General Counsel, Australasia
  • 2005: Takes up first role in London, as Assistant General Counsel, Head of Global Regulation Counselling. Focus was on working with Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, Group R&D and Marketing
  • 2010: Moves to Hong Kong, taking up the position of Regional General Counsel for BAT’s Asia-Pacific region
  • 2014: Moves back to London, taking up the role of Assistant General Counsel, Head of Corporate and Commercial Legal. Focus was on M&A, IP, marketing, employment matters, IT and the legal issues arising from the implementation of SAP
  • 2015: Becomes Director, Legal and External Affairs and General Counsel, having joined the Management Board as Group Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Director in January 2015


  • BA in History from Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Juris Doctor cum laude from the Pace University School of Law in New York

Personal interests

Keeping fit helps keep me focused and I try to train every morning. Most recently, I have focused on indoor rowing, competing in the British Indoor Rowing Championship (old man’s category) and, informally, in the CrossFit Games Open (also, in the old man’s category). My wife and I enjoy spending time out walking with our two teenage daughters and our dog, a German Shepherd. I’m a big music fan too.