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Thursday, November 13, 1997 Published at 13:19 GMT



Business

BAT overtakes Government policy

The cigarette manufacturer British American Tobacco has revealed its plan to buy a Grand Prix racing team.

The move comes amid on-going controversy over the British Government's handling of its decision to exempt Formula One from a ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship in sport.

The European Commission has proposed a Europe-wide ban on cigarette advertising.

The makers of Lucky Strike, among other brands, has already signed world champion Jacques Villeneuve for the 1999 Grand Prix season.


[ image: Soon paying for a racing car near you]
Soon paying for a racing car near you
BAT would become the first tobacco firm owning a team, if, as expected, it signs a deal with Tyrell in early December.

According to the Guardian newspaper, BAT is just "dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's" on the contract following six months of negotiations.

Ken Tyrell, who founded the team in 1970, did not confirm the deal but said he might sell if offered a suitably large amount of money.

BAT is reported to be prepared to pay £300m over five years for Surrey-based Tyrell.

If the deal does go ahead, it could prove a means of getting around any new rules banning tobacco sponsorship.

By renaming the team British American Tobacco racing, for instance, any fresh legislation would quickly be overtaken.

BAT, a UK company, is the world's third largest cigarette maker. It sells around 700bn cigarettes a year and makes profits of £5m each day.








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