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A sponsor for Prost?

BERTELSMANN, the German media company, which is now being linked to a Prost takeover is getting ready to launch a variety of new Internet services this autumn and one of them could end up as Prost's new title sponsor.

In recent months Bertelsmann has been rebuilding its Internet strategy, breaking up previous alliances by selling AOL Europe back to its American parent, floating Lycos Europe and selling another smaller Internet firm to Spain's Telefonica. These transactions have raised around $11bn and Bertelsmann's chairman Thomas Middlehof is now preparing a new e-commerce strategy which will include a music download website which will be launched in the autumn by Bertelsmann subsidiary BMG Entertainment.

BMG is aiming to become the biggest music company in the world. It owns more than 200 record labels including Arista and RCA and owns the rights to music from the likes of Whitney Houston, Barry Manilow, David Bowie and Annie Lennox. The company is involved in selling music on the web with the rival Universal Music Group in a joint venture called GetMusic.com. The Universal Music Group is currently being bought by French utilities company Vivendi which had previously been mentioned in connection with a deal with Prost.

The alliance aims to market music on the Internet in Europe, Asia and Latin America - the key F1 markets.

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