SPONSORS: GALLAHER (BENSON & HEDGES)

Name: Gallaher (Benson & Hedges)

The story of the Benson & Hedges Cigarette brand is long and complicated as the sales of the brand have long been divided between three different tobacco companies, each owning the rights in different parts of the world. Gallaher Tobacco owns the brand in Europe, Philip Morris owns them in America and the rest of the world is controlled by British American Tobacco. The deal with Jordan Grand Prix is with Gallaher, which has been an independent tobacco company since being spun off by the giant American Brands conglomerate in 1997. American Brands has since changed its name to Fortune Brands. British American Tobacco (BAT) part-owns the BAR F1 racing team.

American Brands dated back to 1864 when it was established by a North Carolina farmer called Washington Duke. His W Duke & Sons firm began to grow dramatically under the control of his son James Buchanan Duke who became its president in 1881. By using new technology to make cheaper cigarettes Duke was able to undercut his rivals and by 1904 had established control of the entire US tobacco industry. He merged all the major companies into a firm called American Tobacco.

He then launched an international sales drive and in 1906 agreed to end a price war with Britain's Imperial Tobacco by establishing a new firm called British American Tobacco. In 1910 the US government insisted that American Tobacco be broken up and Duke then switched his attention to BAT while American passed into the hands of the Hill Family.

George Washington Hill, who became the company's president in 1925 led a sales drive to make Lucky Strike one of the biggest brands in the United States.

In the 1960s the firm began to diversify and bought Sunshine Biscuits and the Jim Beam Distillery. Later came an office supply firm and a home security company and in 1970 American Tobacco changed its name to American Brands. It was the target for a hostile takeover in 1988 but turned on its attacker (a firm called EII, which had been built up from parts of the old Beatrice empire) and paid $1.1bn to gain a whole new range of consumer brands. Some of these were later sold off but as pressure grew on the tobacco industry, American Brands decided that it would get out of the business and in 1994 sold its American Tobacco subsidiary to BAT. This gave BAT control of Lucky Strike. American's British tobacco subsidiary Gallahers was then floated off as an independent operation.

In 1996 in order to build up sales of Benson & Hedges Gallaher decided to sponsor the Jordan Formula 1 team - its first major sponsorship deal in motor racing since the Silk Cut Jaguar sportscar team. That deal continues to this day although it has greatly reduced in recent years.

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