NOVEMBER 28, 2001
What are the realistic hopes of Prost Grand Prix?
IT is not a big surprise to hear that as soon as Prost Grand Prix was placed in redressement judiciare a number of different projects to take over the team began to be mentioned. Buying the indebted team from Alain Prost made little sense and it was expected that once a judicial administrator was in charge there would be better deals on offer. The problem is that Formula 1 team structures these days are created in such a way as to make it difficult for such takeovers to occur. In some cases the team assets are owned by different companies and leased to avoid the team falling victim to asset strippers and other corporate raiders. The most important asset of all, however, is the signature on the Concorde Agreement as this opens the way for a big chunk of budget and for the right to actually compete. There are only 12 slots available under the current regulations and all of them are currently taken.
The question is whether Prost Grand Prix is the company that owns those rights. Our sources say that this is the case but that other assets, notably the windtunnel are owned by different companies. In order for someone to take over the team, therefore, more companies are going to have to change hands and that will cost the potential investors more money.
Of the various rumors at the moment, the one with the most credibility is the bid from the Al-Waleed Family while there is talk of some sort of deal involving the Belgian beer company Interbrew. Undoubtedly there are others about which people are being more discreet.
The likelihood is that one of the potential investors will agree to buy a share of the team (perhaps by acquiring the shares not owned by Alain Prost) alternatively they could acquire Prost's shares. The best possible solution would probably be to do a deal to buy all the shares and then try to engage the current management to run the team (at least in the short term). With the winter weeks ticking away there is not a lot of choice available.
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