MARCH 6, 2002
Imperial bidding for West parent company
BRITAIN's Imperial Tobacco is close to completing a deal to buy Reemtsma, the owner of West cigarettes, for a rumored $5.2bn. Imperial, which makes of John Player Special, Embassy and Lambert & Butler brands, will more than double in size if the deal goes ahead and will become a global competitor to Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco. Imperial was the first Formula 1 sponsor back in the 1960s with its Gold Leaf brand and has been involved on and off with JPS. In recent years the company has not been involved in F1 but there is no obvious reason to stop the successful relationship between West and McLaren.
Where there may be more of an impact on F1 is with rival tobacco companies including Gallaher, owner of Benson & Hedges, which may now be forced to look for a merger to stay in competition with the big four companies.