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A new sponsor for Arrows

THE Arrows team has cancelled its planned team launch this week "due to the signing of a new major sponsor which will require a livery change". This is very good news for the Leafield team which has been trying to find a proper budget for its promising 2000 package, although there have been suggestions in recent days in F1 circles that Arrows may not have found a big new sponsor and is using Jos Verstappen's backing from UPC - rumored to be worth around $7.5m - to give the impression that more money has been found than is actually the case.

The suspicions have arisen because the new sponsor arrives at a very convenient moment for the team. In recent months there have been a steady flow of stories suggesting that the team is about to be sold. Arrows team boss Tom Walkinshaw has denied all of them and seems to be annoyed that people do not believe him.

There is no doubt that Morgan Grenfell Private Equity wants to get rid of some of its shares in Arrows. The venture capital company owns 50% of the team but Tom Walkinshaw is the chairman and so has the casting vote. Morgan Grenfell said in December that it wanted to reduce its involvement and so around 40% of the team is available if anyone wants it. The problem is that none of the people currently looking to invest in F1 want to be do it with Walkinshaw, preferring to have control of the team. Walkinshaw says he is not selling any of his shares but unless he has the necessary sponsorship for this year the team's value is going to drop in the months ahead.

All will be revealed when the team reschedules the launch.

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