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Revealed: What Daimler paid for its all-conquering F1 team

NEWS STORY
10/06/2020

Though it hasn't done it, Mercedes would be totally justified in searching the cellars at Brackley, dusting off that old "Tradition of Excellence" sign and hanging it proudly outside the factory gates for all the world to see.

When British American Racing first used the slogan there was mild amusement, slowly turning into hysterical laughter as the team seemingly went from one disaster to another.

Indeed, there times one wondered whether the Brackley facility was cursed such was the lack of success enjoyed by its various inhabitants, be it British American Racing, BAR or Honda.

All that changed with Brawn of course, the eponymous team led by the former Ferrari technical director who won both titles at the first attempt.

Brawn not only picked up the team for a song, it was the development of the double diffuser while Honda was still paying the bills that gave his outfit the edge that left rivals in its wake (literally) for much of the season.

At season end the team was sold to Daimler, and while Brawn was keen to retain world champion Jenson Button alongside Nico Rosberg, the Briton chose to join McLaren at a time Daimler was selling its stake in the Woking team to its other shareholders.

In light of the fact that the Brackley squad has totally dominated the hybrid era, winning over 70% of the races held since its introduction in 2014, there has long been speculation over how much it paid for Brawn. Now the truth can finally be revealed.

Forbes reveals that a Daimler document shows that "on 24 December 2009 the company acquired 45.1 per cent of the issued share capital of Brawn GP Limited for a consideration comprising stage cash payments on pre-defined dates over the next five years. The fair value of the total consideration was 76,987,000 ($97.7m)."

Simultaneously, the management at Brawn GP sold a 30% stake in the team to Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments fund.

According to company documents, "in March 2011 Daimler UK Limited and Aabar Investments PJS reached an agreement to acquire the remaining 24.9% shareholding in Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Limited previously held by management. This increased the Daimler UK Limited shareholding from 45.1% to 60% and Aabar Investments PJS's shareholding from 30% to 40%. In order to acquire the additional 14.9% Daimler UK Limited paid consideration of 19,899,000 ($25.3m)".

Subsequently, "on 19 December 2012 Daimler UK Limited reached an agreement with Aabar Investments PJS in order to acquire the later's remaining 40% shareholding in Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Limited, increasing the Daimler UK Limited shareholding from 60% to 100%. The agreed purchase price was 44,000,000 ($55.8m)."

Mercedes didn't actually pay the full amount as money owed by Aabar was deducted from the total. Consequently, a "consideration of 40,400,000 was paid by Daimler AG and recharged to Daimler UK Limited through the inter-company account. The balance of 3,600,000 was settled through the waiver by Daimler AG of a contractual penalty incurred by Aabar Investments PJS as a result of a cancelled order."

So, in December 2009, 76,987,000 was paid, followed by a further 19,899,000 in March 2011 and finally 40,400,000 in December 2012, giving the grand total of 137,286,000 ($174.3m).

In 2013 however, Toto Wolff came on board and as he subsequently revealed, he told Daimler at the time: "I wouldn’t do it without being a co-shareholder because I’m an entrepreneur, that’s how I function. I need to be able to develop the value of the company."

Through his company, Motorsports Invest, Wolff bought a 30% stake in the team, while Niki Lauda took a further 10% stake.

"In August 2013 the company disposed of 40% of the share capital in Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Limited to NL Holding GmbH and Motorsports Invest for consideration of 40,000,000, reducing its shareholding from 100% to 60%," confirm the filings.

Much like the situation Renault currently finds itself in there was unrest at Daimler at the time of the German manufacturer's acquisition of Brawn.

"(The) exit at McLaren-Mercedes was a chance to completely leave the costly and controversial circus," declared Erich Klemm, then deputy chairman of Daimler's supervisory board. "We cannot understand why the board of directors has immediately started a new Formula One project."

Shortly after, Uwe Werner, another supervisory board member, said that "the Daimler board decrees, on the one hand, harsh austerity measures for the workforce, and has shifted some production to facilities in other countries. On the other hand it spends tens of millions on Formula One. It is incomprehensible to many workers."

Incomprehensible or not, though those early seasons will have had the likes of Klemm and Werner consistently telling fellow board members "we told you so", in German, once the hybrid era began it was treble portions of humble pie all round.

Aside from its total domination of the sport since 2014, which has seen it break all manner of records, it has top-end sponsors queuing at the door, as Formula Money reports that in 2018 it got a "24% share of F1's television coverage and generated $3.8 billion of Advertising Value Equivalent - the price its sponsors would have to pay to get equivalent exposure on air".

To put things in perspective, the amount Daimler paid for the team came to the equivalent of just 42.7% of the team's costs in 2018. Indeed, that year it spent 321.5m of its 338.4m revenue, leaving it with 12.7m net profit.

Though there remains doubt over the team's future, a situation not helped by the effect on car sales as a result of the pandemic, not to mention the increasing move to electric, Daimler must feel that that 137.2m was money well spent.

When, or rather if, the German manufacturer decides to finally up sticks, it will be interesting to see if it is as shrewd when it comes to selling the team.

Then again, at least any potential buyer is certain to be impressed by that "Tradition of Excellence" sign.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Editor, 23/06/2020 7:07

"@ Lapps

According to Chris Sylt - who knows about such things - Ross got Honda for the princely sum of $1.00"

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2. Posted by Lapps, 22/06/2020 8:51

"Tracks
Ross would have had to finance the purchase from Honda. Perhaps Max and Co have that info and could share it. His gain would be the difference between that and the $174m.
Also of much interest, is the apparent 37% discount Toto and Nikki obtained on their share purchase! Great deal Toto. I wonder what the Team would currently be valued at!"

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3. Posted by trackrecords, 12/06/2020 12:52

"So who owned Brawn? Did Ross make 174m?"

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4. Posted by Max Noble, 11/06/2020 13:07

"...and so the racers continue to find reasons to convince the Board... sweet."

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5. Posted by Wokingchap, 10/06/2020 13:39

" I hope Mr.Brawn did very well out of the sale, he deserved it."

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