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Williams for sale?

NEWS STORY
29/05/2020

Announcing disastrous financial results for 2019 and its strategy moving forwards, Williams admits that one option is selling the F1 team.

"The WGPH (Williams Grand Prix Holdings) board is undertaking a review of all the various strategic options available to the Company," said the company in its statement issued this morning.

"Options being considered include, but are not limited to, raising new capital for the business, a divestment of a minority stake in WGPH, or a divestment of a majority stake in WGPH including a potential sale of the whole Company.

"Whilst no decisions have been made regarding the optimal outcome yet, to facilitate discussions with interested parties, the Company announces the commencement of a "formal sale process" (as referred to in Note 2 on Rule 2.6 of the Takeover Code)."

Group revenue declined to 160.2m in 2019, from 176.5m in 2018 and EBITDA deteriorated to a loss of (13.0)m, compared to a profit of 12.9m in the previous year.

According to the statement, the results "were driven by the Formula 1 operation's poor on-track performance, despite continued progress at Williams Advanced Engineering".

F1 team revenue declined to 95.4m in 2019, from 130.7m in 2018 and EBITDA was (10.1)m last year, compared to 16.0m the previous year. Williams Advanced Engineering revenue increased to 63.7m in 2019, from 44.8m in 2018, with EBITDA up to 7.5m in 2019 from 5.1m in 2018.

"The financial results for 2019 reflect the recent decline in competitiveness of the F1 operation and the consequent reduction in commercial rights income," said Mike O'Driscoll, the company's Chief Executive Officer. "After four years of very solid performance in the FIA F1 Constructors' Championship during which we claimed two third and two fifth place finishes, we endured a couple of very difficult seasons. We have implemented a significant restructuring over the last nine months and have strengthened the technical leadership team.

"The 2020 Formula 1 season has, of course, been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this will have an impact on our commercial rights income this year.

"The team have also served notice to terminate its relationship with its title partner, ROKiT, and major sponsor, ROK Drinks," he revealed.

In common with many other businesses, we have taken extensive action to mitigate, including a prolonged furlough period for much of our staff. As this awful global crisis recedes, everyone at Williams Racing is looking forward to the start of the new season.

"There has been an enormous gap in earnings and expenditure between the three largest teams and the rest of the grid for a number of years, but we are confident that Liberty Media's long-term vision and plans, including a first-ever cost-cap for the sport, will deliver a more level playing field for 2021 and beyond, on which all teams can compete more fairly.

"Williams Advanced Engineering growth continued in 2019, and we decided to bring external investment into the Group, through the sale of a majority stake, on 31 December 2019. This will enable WAE to continue to deliver the innovative solutions for which it is known and respected. Whilst we are no longer a majority shareholder in WAE we hold a significant minority stake in the business and remain a key partner for them through the provision of technical and support services."

"The Company is now considered to be in an "offer period" as defined in the Takeover Code," said the press release, "and the dealing disclosure requirements summarised below will apply. Further announcements regarding timings and procedures for the formal sale process will be made as appropriate.

"While the Company has faced a number of challenges, Williams currently remains funded and ready to resume racing when the calendar allows in 2020.

"The WGPH board believes that the strategic review and formal sale process is the right and prudent thing to do in order to take time to consider a full range of options and put the Formula 1 team in the best possible position for the future."

The move would appear to put Michael Latifi on pole position in terms of buying the teams. The Canadian already has a 'mortgage' on the team of at least 50m, and a number of his companies are already on board as sponsors.

This, of course, is coupled with the fact that ROKit is no longer the Grove outfit's title sponsor.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Lapps, 29/05/2020 9:53

"So sad for this iconic Team. So many wins and championships and it seems only yesterday that they were still coming third in the Championship.
Respect Frank Respect!"

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