Interesting ethics here really

Miss Andresen is a scion of a family which made its fortune through tobacco. In 1849 her great, great, great grandfather founded what was to become Norway’s leading cigarette producer.
In 2005, however, the family sold the company for ethical reasons, netting $500 million.

The capital income is of course just the net present value of all future profits to be made by killing people with ciggies.

So why is it ethical to take the cash in one lump sum and not as an annual income?

15 thoughts on “Interesting ethics here really”

  1. Ah, schoolboy error there, Tim. Big Tobacco doesn’t exist just because smokers are willing to pay an agreeable margin. They are Evil, in it because they enjoy killing the Innocent. Andresen is moral because she has repented, and given up her heinous ways. The money is conveniently incidental.

    This is easily proven by Big Tobacco spending profits on lobbyists rather than hookers, crack dwarves and other slave labour. Obvious, innit.

  2. Or: The family saw the future, and the eventual decline of the tobacco industry, and decided to bug out early and re-invest elsewhere.

    pretty much a solid business decision, really.

  3. The family saw the future, and the eventual decline of the tobacco industry, and decided to bug out early and re-invest elsewhere

    But to do so, they had to find a buyer. And for $500m, I would hope that buyer had done the due diligence and concluded that there was still more than that $500m in profits to be made.

    You know, the “net present value” Tim refers to?

  4. BiW

    Entirely possible that the two people involved in the transaction each thought they were on the better side of it. Expectations of the future may have been wide apart …

  5. Slightly off topic but this kind of thing reminds me of mafiosi “going clean” – am sure they’re more likely to pass the dirty end of the business to others than to shut it down entirely. And as for using the illicit profits they’ve already earned to compensate their victims, fuggedaboutit.

  6. If people are having moral qualms about owning an industry that kills more people every year than the mafia has killed in its entire history, I’m sure they won’t mind the comparison 🙂

    Does make you wonder if they just saw the way the wind was blowing … Perhaps they weren’t only afraid of the industry becoming less profitable, and even the civil compensation lawsuits on the horizon, but the threat of social justice prosecutions that lay in the mist just over the horizon.

  7. @MBE

    ‘Slightly off topic but this kind of thing reminds me of mafiosi “going clean” – am sure they’re more likely to pass the dirty end of the business to others than to shut it down entirely.’

    Yep, and sometimes (often?) when you pass things on the next lot are worse. Friend of mine in Northern Ireland has spent the last twenty-odd years working on the British military side of a trans border thing with the gardai on cross-border smuggling and its nexus with terrorism (these days, the terrorism has taken a back seat, but it’s still there). The recent boxing weigh-in shooting in Dub is only the latest and most dramatic exposition of what happens when tired old heads take a back seat and fizzy young turks step in.

    Going back full circle to the ciggies bird, she allegedly sold out because she didn’t like the morals of the fag trade. Okay, I’ll buy that, being as I just came down the Lagan in a bubble. So did she donate all 500 mil to buy CT scanners and pay for cancer drugs and nurses?

    Or – why did she not stay in control and manage a moral (by her alleged standards) decline of the business, instead of selling out to (I’m willing to bet) people who are a bit more bullish about expanding into areas where they’re not so hung up on plain packaging, advertising, product placement and govt health warnings?

  8. ‘If people are having moral qualms about owning an industry that kills more people every year’

    I smoked for 19 years. Reynolds tobacco agents confronted me every day, and stuck 30 cigarettes in my mouth and made me smoke them.

    “Industry that kills” is bullshit characterization.

  9. @ Interested
    It is possible to come down the Lagan in a (thermoplastic) bubble and I am sure someone will during the next century. It is also possible that she disliked tobacco for ethical reasons and hence chose to sell out. Journalists misuse of English is just sloppy.
    After my mother died my sisters told me to sell the Imperial Tobacco shares resulting from Imps acquiring Yardley (which made my grandmother’s favourite perfume) – I insisted on selling GEC (again resulting from a takeover of a more moral firm) because they didn’t pay their bills on time – both were decisions based on ethical considerations, just as consumer boycotts are.

  10. Friend of mine in Northern Ireland has spent the last twenty-odd years working on the British military side of a trans…

    There’s a Crying Game joke in there somewhere.

  11. John77,

    Some consumer boycotts are due to anti-semitism and some are because dumb commies think companies should pay more tax than they are legally required to.

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