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Tobacco war hotting up

GAULOISES may have announced that it is interested in buying up competitors in the European tobacco markets but this does not mean that the likely targets do not have ambitions of their own. This week Britain's Imperial Tobacco said that it was also looking to buy up rival tobacco companies and hinted that the most likely target is Austria Tabak, which is Gauloises's major target.

In recent years Imperial - which was the first commercial sponsor in F1 in 1968 with the Gold Leaf brand - has bought the Rizla company, the Dutch firm Van Nelle and several ex-Rothmans companies in Australia and New Zealand.

With all of the medium-sized European tobacco companies competing to buy there is going to be pressure on two of the firms which are big players in F1: Reemtsma (West) and Gallaher (Benson & Hedges).

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