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Parr joins board of Cosworth

NEWS STORY
04/01/2014

Adam Parr has been a busy man since resigning as chairman of Williams in 2012. According to Frank Williams (), "there were one or two things that disturbed him in F1" and soon after leaving he wrote a book about his experiences in the sport. As Pitpass revealed last year, Parr put the brakes on an attempt to finance a second edition through crowd funding but he certainly hasn't been twiddling his thumbs. In April 2013 he became chief executive of Sported, the UK's leading sporting legacy charity of the London Olympics. An article in today's Guardian reveals that Parr has now added another name to his CV as he has joined the board of struggling engine manufacturer Cosworth.

Parr is well-acquainted with Cosworth as Williams used its engines for two of the five years he spent at the team. Parr joined as its chief executive in 2006 before becoming chairman in 2010. He steered Williams to a flotation on Frankfurt's junior exchange in 2011 but its performance spluttered on track and that year he presided over the worst season in its 36-year history when it finished ninth in the standings.

Cosworth is going through a similar dip in performance after its owners failed to float the company in 2012. Parr was appointed to its board on Thursday along with two other executives – one of whom is a well-known name in F1 circles. He is Alan Donnelly, the former F1 representative of the FIA. The third appointment is Carl-Peter Forster who was chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) owner Tata Motors.

Forster stepped down as chief executive of Tata Motors in 2011 due to "unavoidable personal circumstances," reportedly the serious illness of a family member which prevented him from travelling to India where the company is based.

The trio has their work cut out at Cosworth. As we have revealed, the company reversed from a £3.9m profit in 2011 to a £7.1m net loss the following year. This was driven by uncertainty over its ownership which led to a crash in sales and a breach of its banking agreements.

Cosworth was founded in 1958 by engineers Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth. The company was bought by Ford in the 1990s and then sold to current owners, the venture capitalists Gerry Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven, in 2004.

They put Cosworth up for sale in October 2012 after spending more than a year trying to float the company. Swiss investment bank UBS was instructed to find a buyer and last year Cosworth's chief executive Hal Reisiger said that "order intake was impacted as key customers waited to discover the outcome." He added that the hunt for new owners was eventually put on hold when "the existing shareholders decided to retain 100% ownership of the group for the foreseeable future."

Engines made by Cosworth have powered more F1 cars to victory than those of any other manufacturer except for Ferrari. Its first win came in 1967 with British driver Jim Clark but it is a decade since it last won a race.

In 2012 Cosworth lost its engine supply deal with Williams leaving it with only two clients in F1 - HRT and Marussia which have both never scored a single point since joining in 2010. HRT shut its doors in 2012 and at the end of last year Cosworth pulled out of F1 as Marussia is switching to Ferrari engines in 2014.

Cosworth's accounts to 31 December 2012 show that the loss of Williams was also a factor which contributed to revenue dropping 24% to £41.5m and Reisiger said that this led to the company breaching the terms of its £10m revolving credit facility.

As a result, Cosworth had to repay its £600,000 overdraft facility, take on a further £9.6m in shareholder loans and renegotiate new banking terms which allow it to repay the £10m over five years. Time will tell whether the new appointments will be able to steer the company through this and back to profitability.

Christian Sylt:

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1. Posted by Paul C, 07/01/2014 2:54

"Maybe Cosworth needs to start supplying engines for endurance racers. "

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