AUGUST 7, 2000
David Hunt poised for Prost bid
DAVID HUNT, the younger brother of the late 1976 World Champion James Hunt, is said to be launching a bid to acquire control of the ailing Prost F1 team. It is believed that Hunt, who three years ago attempted to revive the legendary Team Lotus F1 operation - which went out of business at the end of 1994 - is linked with private equity house Candover Investments who have shown interest in the team.
As things stand, Prost faces a bleak future, short on money and lacking an engine supply deal for the 2001 season. Peugeot, his current partners, are withdrawing from direct involvement in the Grand Prix business and Renault has hinted that it will not sanction the supply of customer Supertec engines as long as Prost is involved.
The four-times World Champion recently called in Credit Suisse First Boston, the investment bank, to canvass for buyers prepared to pay in the region of $70 million (dollars) for the team.
Hunt, who made a fortune in the early 1990s selling Amway water filters, may find it extremely difficult to rename the Prost team as a reborn Lotus organization. There is speculation that, although Hunt is believed to have purchased the rights in the mid-1990s after Lotus went into receivership, there is some doubt as to precisely who owns the trademark of this famous company founded almost 50 years ago by the late Colin Chapman.
The dynamic British engineer died of a heart attack in December, 1982, after his company had become mired in the de Lorean scandal and his fellow Lotus director Fred Bushell later served a jail term for his part in the embezzlement of British government money in connection with de Lorean.
It is believed that a legal challenge could be mounted by Chapman's family who, many believe, are thought to have a claim on the Lotus name under the terms of a "first refusal" clause which may have been overlooked by the company's receivers.
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