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Snook gets the Orange elbow

HANS SNOOK, the man behind the Orange sponsorship of the Arrows Formula 1 team is expected to be pushed into the background when Orange is floated along with the other mobile phone businesses of France Telecom in the next few months. Snook was expecting to head the new company under an agreement hammered out earlier this year when Orange was sold to France Telecom but as we suspected at the time, Snook is to be replaced as chief executive by a Frenchman Jean-Francois Pontal, a colleague of the France Telecom chairman Michel Bon.

Snook is expected to be given the role of executive chairman but this will mean his influence over the company will be reduced dramatically and with share options to trade in and demand for his services elsewhere Snook is unlikely to stay for long in his new role.

And that means that the Arrows sponsorship will once again be called into question. There is currently two years to run on the deal, unless the France Telecom lawyers can find a get-out clause. This could end up being good news for Tom Walkinshaw as it could mean that he will be paid to settle the deal and will then be able to sell the space on the car once again. However, much will depend on performance on the track and at the moment the team has not scored many points although the cars are often quite fast when they are actually running.

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