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Prost looking for a partner...

ALAIN PROST has asked the investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston to develop the team's international financial strategy. What this means is that Prost is looking at ways of raising money - either from an initial public offering or from the sale of a minority shareholding in the team to a financial institution or venture capitalist.

Credit Suisse First Boston is the global investing business of the Zurich-based Credit Suisse bank. In recent months it has played an important role in the AT&T deal with TCI and in the Daimler-Chrysler merger.

Prost is following the trend in F1 to go to the financial markets, following Eddie Jordan's ground-breaking deal last year with Warburg Pincus & Co. and the sale of a large percentage of Arrows to Deutsche Bank Morgan Grenfell.

In all likelihood Prost will retain operational control of his team and will sell only a minority shareholding. Given the current financial situation in F1 this could raise as much as $80m. A large percentage of this money would be reinvested in the team to fund expansion in order to help the team become more competitive against the big F1 operations such as McLaren and Ferrari.

In recent days there have been suggestions that Prost has been talking with Honda about a possible supply of engines. This is not really surprising as F1 teams and car manufacturers are in constant dialogue but it would be a surprise - and not very logical - if Prost did anything other than stay with Peugeot when the current deal runs out at the end of next year. If the new Peugeot V10 engine - which will be 20% lighter than the current engine - is a disappointment Prost might try to do a deal elsewhere. The new engine is due to run for the first time in September.

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