Sir Frank Williams is considering bringing public shareholders into his Williams F1 team to enable it to remain ‘an independent Constructor, owned and staffed by people committed to Formula One’ in the future.
In a statement released today, the eponymous team owner said that he, co-founder Patrick Head, and non-executive director Toto Wolff are considering the flotation option carefully, and may act in the near future.
Such a move leads to speculation about Sir Frank’s health and his plans for retirement, but Williams chairman Adam Parr insists that ‘retirement is categorically not on Frank's agenda’ and that ‘Frank's health is absolutely fine’.
Sir Frank’s statement says that this move is the best way to secure the team’s future and that he “shall remain the majority and controlling shareholder and the Team Principal of AT&T Williams.”
Parr agrees, but makes it clear that the team has no short-time financial concerns. “The company has always been run on sound financial principles,” he said. “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.”
In the statement, Sir Frank Williams talked about his belief that Williams should remain an independent team built on a sound financial footing:
“For some years I have been considering how to secure the long-term ownership of Williams such that it will remain true to the aims with which Patrick and I established the team back in 1977.
“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.”
The statement concludes with an explanation of the flotation option, its benefits, and Sir Frank’s future role in the team:
“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.”