Williams has announced it is willing to sell the team as a whole company following challenging financial results, while it has terminated its title sponsorship with ROKiT with immediate effect.
In publishing its accounts for 2019, Williams Grand Prix Holdings (WGPH) announced that group revenue dropped by more than $20 million from £176.5m ($217.31m) in 2018 to £160.2m ($197.24m) last year. That led to EBITDA dropping from a profit of £12.9m ($15.88m) to a loss of £13m ($16.01m).
While much of the loss is attributed to the team’s poor performance in the constructors’ championship — and therefore lower prize fund payments — over a number of years, it does not yet take into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. WGPH divested a majority stake in Williams Advanced Engineering in December 2019, something it says had the intention of “providing renewed focus in the F1 operations” as it took a new strategic direction, and it is now open to selling the whole company.
Team owner Sir Frank Williams and deputy team principal Claire have long been against a sale, but after exploring major investment routes that would involved selling a majority stake, all options are now officially on the table.
“As part of this new strategic direction, the WGPH board is undertaking a review of all the various strategic options available to the Company. 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,” a WGPH statement read.
Joint financial advisors have been appointed as the group now enters into a “formal sale process,” but there is currently no bidder and the development does not mean the team will be sold.
“The Company is not in receipt of any approaches at the time of this announcement and confirms that it is in preliminary discussions with a small number of parties regarding a potential investment in the Company,” WPGH stated. “There can be no certainty that an offer will be made, nor as to the terms on which any offer will be made.”
At the same time, Williams also announced it has terminated its title sponsorship deal with ROKiT with immediate effect. The ROKiT group had become title sponsor in 2019 on a three-year deal and quickly extended that contract to run until at least 2023. No reason is given for the termination.