Williams: I’m not quitting, despite float

WILLIAMS principal Sir Frank Williams insists he has no plans to step down, despite paving the way for his eventual retirement by offering his shares for sale in the team’s forthcoming stock market flotation.

The iconic English outfit is selling up to 27 per cent of its shareholding to private investors on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange next month, in a move that values the team at €265m (£225m).

Founder Williams, 68, is selling a 6.4 per cent stake in the group in the first ever float by a formula one team, but will remain majority shareholder with 50.3 per cent and says he is determined to remain at the helm.

“I want to be clear at this point that when we move ahead, I will remain as a major shareholder of this group and I will have endless energy for a long time to come to make sure that the team not only prospers but continues to do better and better on the circuits,” he said.

“Formula one is immensely competitive and there is no time to rest, no time almost to sleep. There are some extraordinarily clever, and driven, above average competent people we have to beat – and to challenge them is quite a challenge.”

The sale will net Williams around £14.5m, while Patrick Head, the director of engineering who co-founded the team in 1977, could bank almost £40m from reducing his stake from 23.5 per cent to 5.8 per cent.

No new shares are being issued and chairman Adam Parr appeared to rule out a capital-raising exercise in the future. He said: “We are not raising any new money, nor do we have any plans to.”

NEED TO KNOW: WILLIAMS FLOTATION

Q&A

Q.WHY IS THE LISTING IN FRANKFURT AND NOT LONDON?
A.Williams wants to keep secret the value of contracts. German rules allow that, British ones do not.

Q.WHY IS THE GROUP DOING THIS?
A.Not to raise money for the team, as there are no new shares being issued. Williams say it will ensure a more sustainable ownership structure and will help retain key talent.

Q.WHAT IS BEING OFFERED?
A.Up to 27 per cent of Williams Grand Prix Holdings, at between €24 and €29 per share (£20-£24), which values the company at €265m (£225m). Most of those belong to chief engineer Patrick Head, and some to Frank Williams.

Q.WHAT ARE THE COMPANY’S KEY NUMBERS?
A.The group has been profitable for the last three years, in which it generated £38m. It had a net cash position of £24.8m in December.