Williams has revealed the details of its flotation on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange next month, with the first publicly-traded F1 team in history set to herald 'a new era' for the multiple world championship-winning Grove-based outfit.
With seven drivers' crowns, nine constructors' laurels and 113 grand prix triumphs to its name since its official entry onto the grand prix grid back in 1978, Williams is the third most-successful team in F1 history – albeit one that has not claimed a title since 1997, and not so much as even a single race victory since the end of 2004 as its once dominant form has been significantly diluted by a lack of manufacturer support.
Eponymous co-founder Sir Frank Williams – who will remain the majority and controlling shareholder under the new arrangement – elected to float his team in response to losing a number of key sponsors last year.
“This IPO (Initial Public Offering) marks a new era in the history of our team,” the 68-year-old asserted. “Our future as an independent constructor is sustained by this listing, providing us the base from which to further grow.”
“We have spent the past few years working to ensure a long-term future for the sport,” added team chairman Adam Parr. “Having accomplished this, the time is now right to assure Williams' own future as an independent constructor, in this rapidly-evolving industry.”
Although the team's accounts show that Williams has made a profit for each of the last three financial years, 'has solid cash reserves' and that sponsorship for the F1 2011 campaign is 'fully-secured', a statement reveals that the IPO is designed to provide 'a more sustainable ownership structure that will support its growth as an independent constructor' into the future and 'provide investors [with] a unique opportunity to invest in a global sporting brand'.
The shares – including a majority of the stake currently owned by co-founder Patrick Head – will go on sale on 2 March, ranging from €24 to 29 in price, each with a nominal value of five pence. The business at a whole has been valued at €265 million.
“I have known Frank Williams for more than 40 years,” remarked the sport's influential commercial rights-holder and Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Bernie Ecclestone. “If I could buy shares in the company, I would.
“He has always run a very efficient organisation. He has never wanted to be taken over by either a car manufacturer or a large company. He has supported F1 in many ways most of his life, as has Patrick Head. We want more Franks and Patricks.”
Ultra-experienced Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello and Venezuelan rookie Pastor Maldonado will race for Williams during the F1 2011 World Championship campaign, which begins at Sakhir with the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix on 13 March.