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One of the world's biggest tobacco companies plans to spend up to $400-million to buy or start a Formula One team, according to London's Financial Times and The Times. However, existing grand prix teams may block the move.

Quoting BAT Industries' executives, the FT said the company is in talks with at least one Formula One team, which could lead to an announcement before the end of the year that it would either start up its own team from scratch or enter a joint venture with another team. The tobacco group's plans come against the background in Europe of pressure for a total ban on tobacco advertising.

In a follow-up, the FT said that some existing teams want to block BAT's plans. The FT said four teams, including Tyrell and Arrows, are understood to have been angered by BAT's tactics of inviting tenders from them to create a team earlier this year, only for BAT subsequently to seek an outside partner.

No new team can enter Formula One without the agreement of a majority of those teams already participating, so BAT's plan largely depends on whether Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone can get support within the existing grand prix circus.

BAT is understood to be working with Britain's Reynard RacingCars, one of the world's biggest racing car manufacturers which has had grand prix asperations for some years.


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