For some years Sir Frank Williams has been considering how to secure the long-term ownership of his racing organisation such that it will remain true to the aims with which Patrick and he established the team back in 1977. Says Williams:
“My goal then was to race in Formula One as an independent Constructor. This was and is my great passion and I will race for as long as I continue to be blessed with good health. It is also my desire that the team is in good shape to go on racing long after I am gone. To that end, it is prudent and necessary to plan for an ownership structure that will enable Williams to be an independent Constructor, owned and staffed by people committed to Formula One and to the sound business practices which have supported us over three decades.
“I have concluded that the option which will best achieve this is to broaden our shareholder base with public shareholders, while having a stable core of long-term investors closely involved in the running of the team. This will ensure stability, good governance and will, I believe, enable us to attract and retain the best people and partners.
“Patrick, Toto and I are therefore examining this option closely and, if the environment is propitious, we may act in the near future. Regardless of whatever steps we take, I shall remain the majority and controlling shareholder and the Team Principal of AT&T Williams.”
Q&A WITH ADAM PARR – CHAIRMAN, WILLIAMS F1
Q: It sounds like Williams is considering a flotation on the stock exchange. Would that be correct?
ASP: Yes, it would be correct to say that Williams F1 is considering a flotation on the stock exchange. At this stage, all we have concluded is that it is the best way to secure the future of the team and its 450 employees.
Q: What is the timetable?
ASP: As the plan develops we will provide further information.
Q: Is retirement a current consideration for Frank?
ASP: No. Retirement is categorically not on Frank’s agenda. Anyone who knows Frank knows this.
Q: Are there any concerns surrounding Frank’s health?
ASP: No. Frank’s health is absolutely fine.
Q: What other options has the Board investigated?
ASP: We have had many approaches in the past, but none have offered the same benefits as this route.
Q: Toto Wolff invested in the team in November 2009. What is his future role?
ASP: Toto is a non-executive director and a significant shareholder in the company. He has already established himself as an important part of the team and he will play a central role in its future.
Q: If Williams were to go public, what are the implications for the team’s partners and relations with the FIA and FOM?
ASP: The team has always enjoyed honest and open relationships with its partners, the governing body of the sport and the commercial rights-holder. Whether we are a public or private company, this will not change.
Q: Would any flotation involve raising funds for the company?
Q: Does Williams F1 have the financial track record to support a flotation?
ASP: Yes, we believe we do. The company has always been run on sound financial principles. In spite of the economic environment in recent years, we have turned a profit and generated positive cash-flow from operating activities in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and we have a fully contracted budget for 2011.