Q and A with Frank Williams Frank Williams and Patrick Head recently announced that they have sold a minority interest in Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited (Williams F1) to an investment company led by Austrian investor Toto Wolff. Following the announcement, Sir Frank spoke on the teams official website about what this new development actually means....
How much equity does Mr. Wolff receive in this sale? Williams has never disclosed details concerning any of its contractual agreements and that has not changed. Toto will be a minority shareholder of Williams.
Why now? I’m not getting any younger, I’m 67. I have no intention of losing control of this company or ceasing any of my Formula One activities, but I would prefer to be prepare for when Patrick and I are not here and not to leave it until the last minute. This situation means that the future of this company is assured for our partners and our workforce, who are all very loyal.
Are the shares that you have sold split evenly between yourself and Patrick, or are they mostly on your side? The shareholding between Patrick and I is in a certain ratio and the sale reflects that, but I don’t want to give too much away. I want to emphasize though that it is a minority shareholding.
Could you clarify how much this will leave you with in terms of your involvement in the team? Nothing changes. I will continue with my role. I have a keen interest in the team’s sponsorships and I work on that with my people on the commercial side of the business. Patrick and I are here everyday and we will continue to be so. I have no desire at this time in my life to want to stop work.
Is this a net capital boost to Williams? The sale is entirely for private motives. Patrick and I have never taken a penny out of the business in four decades and it’s time I paid a few bills!
What benefits will Toto bring to the team, long term? Toto is a very shrewd business man. He has created and owned several businesses and sold them on for a profit. What is most impressive is how young he is . He is a very clever man.
What involvement will he have? Toto will turn up for the occasional board meeting. He will come to as many as he wants, but he has no set plans.
Aside from the commercial side of the business, will he have a role in the sporting side? No, that’s not foreseen. If he has an interesting opinion, he will certainly be listened to, of course.
So you won’t be relinquishing any control of the company? I can not stress enough that Toto is a minority shareholder and that the company is still entirely within my control and that is not going to change. Formula One is my life, I love what I do and I don’t want to change that so long as I am mentally and physically healthy to do so, but we all welcome the contribution of experience, success and vitality I am sure he will bring to Williams.
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