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Rumours link Former Benetton boss to Arrows

CHELTENHAM, England, Nov 20 - Former Benetton Formula One boss David Richards said on Saturday he had sold 49 percent of his motorsport company and raised enough to return to F1 if he wanted to. Richards announced that international private equity investment group Apax Partners had bought the stake in Prodrive, which prepares world rally championship cars for Subaru and British Touring Car entries for Ford. No financial details were given but Richards said the company was working towards a flotation in two to four years. Richards confirmed he had laid down four conditions for a return to Formula One that it must involve Prodrive, must be manufacturer-linked, must be potentially competitive in the short to medium term and be commercially viable. "We need to have a global base for our activities, we need to have a wide range of activities so one has to look at Nascar in the States, Superbikes, Touring Car racing and Formula One,'' Richards said. He said the question was to see which could make the best returns over the next three to five years. "Obviously Formula One beckons but not to the exclusion of everything else," Richards said. "My target is to have a company worth 150 million pounds ($242.6 million) within the next three yearsFormula One has 12 slots and 11 are taken so far, although Toyota is also expected to secure the 12th. Richards, who left Benetton last year, has ." been linked to possible take-overs of some teams in the past. He and Arrows denied this month that they were in talks. The International Automobile Federation (June that all new entrants to Formula One must first deposit a $48 million deposit.