SPONSORS: BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO (LUCKY STRIKE)
Name: British American Tobacco (Lucky Strike)
British American Tobacco was created in 1902 by rival tobacco companies American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco. It was designed to bring an end to a sales war between the two companies with American concentrating on the Americas; Imperial on the British market and BAT selling brands from both companies in other countries around the world.
James Buchanan Duke, the man behind American Tobacco, took charge of BAT and built a large market in China. When American Tobacco was forced to sell its shares in BAT by the US anti-trust authorities in 1911, BAT began to look to the Americas for new markets and acquired Brazil's Souza Cruz in 1914. In 1927 BAT bought the Brown & Williamson company in the United States.
In 1949 BAT suffered a serious setback when the Communist Revolution closed China to the company, which lost a quarter of its sales as a result. The company began to diversify in the 1960s and acquired a variety of other businesses, notably the Yardley perfume company. BAT's first foray into motor racing sponsorship was with Yardley in 1970 with the BRM team. The company continued in F1 until the end of 1974.
By then BAT had acquired more retail companies, notably Saks in 1973. In 1976 the company changed its name to BAT Industries and after acquiring further retailers, such as Argos and Marshall Field, began to move into the insurance business with the purchase of Eagle Star, Allied Dunbar and the Farmers Group in the course of the 1980s.
The company returned to F1 sponsorship in 1983 with the Barclay brand which supported Arrows, Williams and ultimately Jordan in 1992. In 1993 BAT acquired the global rights to Lucky Strike in a brand swap with the American Brands corporation which had decided to get out of the tobacco industry and the following year it bought American Tobacco for $1 billion and merged its one-time parent into Brown & Williamson. The next step was a massive merger in 1997 with Zurich Insurance and this resulted in the company's tobacco businesses being spun off into a new listed company called British American Tobacco plc. The new firm quickly became highly acquisitive and expanded its operations all over the world, consolidating its tobacco holdings by buying rivals and joint-ventures. In 1999 the firm took over Rothmans International and that same year BAT subsidiary British American Racing began a major F1 program with the Lucky Strike brand.