The state of the art. If in the past Williams’ ownership was divided into two parts, 70% to founder Frank and 30% to Patrick Head, today it is definitely more fragmented. Sir Frank currently holds the majority stake, quantified at just over 50%, with Patrick Head at 10%; the remaining portion of the cake is divided between minor shareholders, with part of the company listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. In December the majority of the shares of the subsidiary Williams Advanced Engineering was sold to the British group EMK Capital. Last April the company managed to refinance a previous £ 40 million loan granted by the HSBC bank in 2015, thanks to the intervention of Michael Latifi’s ‘Latrus Racing’. The financial difficulties reflect those on the track, with the tail light team in F1 in 2018 and 2019.
Today’s turning point. Williams Grand Prix Holding has officially launched all the procedures necessary to find new investors. All the hypotheses will be evaluated, from the search for new capital to the sale of a minority stake in the team or a majority stake or of the entire company. The hope is to find the right figures in 3-4 months. It is no coincidence that the decision came a few days after the formalization of the new sports and financial regulations of Formula 1. With the budget cap that will be introduced starting from 2021 and the aerodynamic regulations for the disabled, Williams can have the opportunity to attract new capital and climb the starting grid.
The break with RoKiT. In 2019, the Californian telephone and telecommunications company RoKiT replaced Martini as the team’s main sponsor, signing a three-year agreement, which then became five-year (until 2023) last August. Something in the reports, however, broke, as shown by the financial data that speak of an obligation of 10 million pounds never paid in 2019 by RoKiT, a figure destined to increase with the non-payment agreed in the first months of the current year. An unexpected hole, which prompted Williams to find a way to fix it.
– Michael Latifi, successful Iranian-Canadian businessman who founded Sofina Foods Inc. in 2006 – a company operating in the food sector, in particular in the one dedicated to the processing of meat and other products that come from Italy – obtaining a wealth that has allowed him to become one of the main shareholders (10%) of the McLaren Group. But Latifi senior also has a solid relationship with Williams, who welcomed his son Nicholas in 2019 as a third driver and for 2020 as the official stable bearer. The link is also economic because – as mentioned earlier – last April he gave the Grove company a £ 50 million loan which requested the team’s historic car collection (valued at £ 20 million) and the land as collateral and the Grove buildings (£ 30 million) to refinance the debt with the HSBC bank, which in turn had the team’s assets as collateral and therefore also the team’s contract to race in Formula 1.
– Chanoch NissanyBudapest-based Israeli businessman known for starting hobby car racing at age 38. He was third Minardi driver at the Hungarian GP 2005 (at 42), closing the PL1 at 13 “from the then leader Wurz. He currently follows the career of his son Roy, who became Williams’ test driver last January, after experiences far from exciting in the minor categories.
– Dmitry Mazepin, businessman at the head of the Uralchem Integrated Chemicals Company, with assets estimated at 1.3 billion euros in 2015, according to Forbes. The Russian had already been approached Williams in April 2019 and is cyclically joined by several teams. He tried to acquire Force India before the arrival of the consortium of entrepreneurs led by Lawrence Stroll and was included among the candidates to take over Renault’s activity (hypothesis averted in the last hours of the French announcement of the desire to continue in F1) and included in the Wolff-Stroll market plot. German sources gave him in fact ready to take over the Racing Point / Aston Martin in case of transfer of senior Stroll to Mercedes. Williams could be a good opportunity for Mazepin, whose son Nikita, bishop of F2 class ’99, is well known in Grove, having already been a pilot of the simulator.