SEPTEMBER 8, 2001
More upheaval at Prost?
IT has been reported that Jean-Luc Gripond, financial director of the Prost Grand Prix team has parted from the outfit as Prost continues to seek new investment for the 2002 season.
The upheavals at Prost in the last year have seen the Diniz family buy in to the team, the sports marketing experts UFA employed to raise sponsorship and subsequently taken to court for not doing so and rumors of a sell-out to Renault, an Arab Prince and the Delaey family the subject of heated conjecture.
Gripond has been the anchorman for all the Prost team's financial dealings throughout, opening negotiations in partnership with Prost's star quality as a former quadruple world champion and major player in Formula 1 circles as his trump card, but is believed to be moving to take a senior role in a major European soccer club.
Rumors also abound that the Diniz family is seeking a withdrawal from Prost after it bought into the team 12 months ago having failed to convince Prost to increase the family's 40% stake - which subsequently turned out to be an investment in areas other than the race team.
If the worst rumors are true former driver Pedro Diniz has resigned, and that his father Albilio offered Prost $1 to take on the company in full and what are believed to be tens of millions of dollars of debt.
Prost meanwhile has been attempting to sell the remainder of the team for somewhat more than a single dollar to the Delaey family, owners of the Interbrew alcohol giant and Prince Al Waleed of Saudi Arabia, whose high-profile investments already include Disneyland Paris, the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain, the Four Seasons Hotel chain and the Daewoo Corporation of Korea.
Clearly there is much work to be done on Prost's commercial future, and whether or not Gripond's departure will affect the outcome remains to be seen.