Investors discuss a deal with Prost

JUST days before a deadline which would have closed down Prost Grand Prix, it seems that a group of French businessmen are going to come to the rescue of the team, with an investment of $40m. Agence France Presse is reporting that a meeting took place between Alain Prost and the consortium at the end of last week. The consortium is planning to take a majority interest in the team but leave Alain Prost in charge.

There is plenty of private money in France and in the past Prost has managed to attract a small amount of it to his team notably from Bernard Arnault (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy), the Bich Family (owners of Bic), Pierre Bellon (Sodexho) and Philippe Foriel-Destezet (Adecco). All of these figure in the top 20 fortunes in France.

The largest fortunes in France belong to consumer companies notably France's richest person Liliane Bettencourt (a shareholder of both L'Oreal and Nestle), the Defforey Family (which owns the Carrefour supermarket chain), the Mulliez family (which own rival Auchan) and Paul-Louis Hallez (who controls a strong of other supermarkets with his Promodes firm). Of these the only one which has any link to the sport is L'Oreal, which is run by Welshman Lindsay Owen-Jones, who raced a McLaren F1 sportscar a few years ago.

Others who might be interested in Prost are Francois Pinault (owner of the Pinault, Printemps and Redoute stores), banker Michel David Weill, Jerome Seydoux of Pathe, and the building magnate Martin Bouyges. Another hugely wealthy man who likes to be in the spotlight is Robert Louis-Dreyfus, the owner of Adidas.

A deal has yet to bee struck but Prost is not in a very good bargaining position although the investors seem to think that the team has potential to do well.

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