BAT strengthens its position in BAR

British American Tobacco has strengthened its position within BAR by taking up shares which were authorised when the team began in 1998. It is not clear to what extent this alters the balance of the shareholdings in the team but it will inevitably mean that the other shareholdings have been diluted, which means that the shareholders will have less of a voice in the future. These include two Guernsey registered companies, Bowood Limited and Silverfox Holdings Limited (which are believed to hold Adrian Reynard's 14% shareholding) a UK registered company called KUK Limited and Mount Eagle Inc, a British Virgin Islands registered company which holds 35%. This is the company belonging to Gerry Forsythe and Craig Pollock.

Shares in the team are of little actual value because of the huge debts that exist but as BAT pays off these debts it will continue to increase its strength within the company.

David Richards runs the team on behalf of BAT. He has a five-year sponsorship agreement with BAT and an option to acquire shares although it is not clear whether that option covers the whole of the BAT shareholding. Richards has been in charge of the team for two years.

Reports that BAT is planning to sell the team should be treated with caution although it is likely that this will happen when alll tobacco advertising in the sport is banned. That should happen in 2006 but it is likely that some teams will go on being funded by tobacco money beyond that date although the gradual spread of tobacco bans will eventually make the whole process unprofitable for the tobacco companies.

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