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Midland Confident of Keeping B&H Sponsorship

The Midland Group, new owners of the Jordan Grand Prix team, are confident of keeping the sponsorship of Benson & Hedges in 2005.

The Midland Group, new owners of the Jordan Grand Prix team, are confident of keeping the sponsorship of Benson & Hedges in 2005.

The Benson and Hedges brand, property of Gallagher International, has been associated with Jordan since the start of the 1996 season, when it became the team's title sponsor.

From July 31 a European Union (EU) directive will outlaw all event sponsorship by tobacco companies. The FIA, the sport's governing body, estimated in 2002 that tobacco companies contributed $350 million a year to motorsport, with Formula One taking most of that.

Although Benson & Hedges is yet to commit to a new deal with Jordan, Midland are optimistic they will remain with the team.

"Although 2005 will be a transitional season for Jordan Grand Prix, we are confident that Benson & Hedges, a longtime supporter of the team, will continue to see the value of its partnership with Jordan and remain committed to the program for the upcoming season," the team told Atlas F1 in a statement.

"We are currently investing substantial resources â€" both time and money â€" to prepare for the opening race in Melbourne, and look forward to finalizing partnership arrangements shortly."

Jordan announced on Monday they would be taken over by Midland Group, owned by Russian-born businessman Alex Shnaider.

Although Jordan's statement mentioned a "future takeover", Midland confirmed to Atlas F1 they have already acquired 100% of the shares in the Silverstone-based team.

Jordan will continue to compete under the name Jordan Grand Prix in 2005.

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