PEOPLE: CYRIL BOURLON DE ROUVRE

Name: Cyril Bourlon de Rouvre
Nationality: France

From a wealthy French family - which founded a company in 1873 and made a fortune in sugar - Cyril de Rouvre had a privileged upbringing, attending the elite Lycee Janson de Sailly in Paris's fashionable 16th arrondisement and then being sent to an English public school - the Oratory. He returned to France and studied electrical engineering, qualifying in 1965. He then worked for the national electrical company EDF until his compulsory military service. He then joined the family firm and after his father was murdered by his valet, he inherited the entire company.

A fan of car racing he took part in some of the early rally raids with Thierry Sabine, including the Abidjan-Nice in which he drove a Range Rover. In the same period he diversified the company into the cinema, selling rights to films, and also invested in real estate (including a hotel in Tahiti), air chartering and publishing. In March 1989 he bought a majority shareholding in the AGS Formula 1 team. In the course of the next couple of years the team swallowed up $18m and de Rouvre began to sell companies - there were around 70 in the group - to pursue his passion in motor racing and in politics. In March 1989 he was elected mayor of the town of Chaumont in the Haute-Marne but within a few weeks he was forced to sell AGS to Italians Gabriele Rafanelli and Patrizio Cantu.

He was soon elected as a regional councilor for the Champagne-Ardennes and in the middle of 1992 he bought 21% of the Ligier team from founder Guy Ligier. In November that year Ligier sold another 69% and retired from F1 to make another fortune in natural fertilizer. De Rouvre took over the team for a year but in December 1993 he was arrested by an examining magistrate and spent two months in the Fleury-Merogis prison near Paris while his UGC-DA business was investigated. In early 1994 the Ligier team was bought by Flavio Briatore, who wanted to get hold of the Renault engine supply for Benetton.

De Rouvre disappeared from F1. In June 1995 he lost the election to be mayor of Chaumont and a year later went on trial, accused of using money from his other companies to fund his motor racing ambitions. The prosecution asked for a three year prison sentence and fine and a 20-year ban on de Rouvre running any other company.

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