On the day that it publicly floats on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange – in so doing making F1 history – shares in Williams have already slipped in value from their initial public offering (IPO).
The multiple world championship-winning outfit – which has hit lean times of late, both in terms of on-track results and more specifically off-track finances following the keenly-felt recent loss of a number of key sponsors – yesterday (Tuesday) issued the shares at €25 each, what was already regarded as a cautious figure. However, by 11:30am today, the shares in Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC were listed at €24.05, a drop of just under four per cent. The company has been valued at €243 million.
“It's always brave to come to the market, but being brave is what we do,” chairman Adam Parr told Bloomberg Television
, adding that 'it's not an easy moment to be born into the financial market' and seeking to point out that the opening trade is not habitually representative of a company's general growth and future development potential. A Frankfurt-based trader, meanwhile, told Reuters
that due to F1's reputation as a risky sector in which to invest, 'this is what I expected and I think it will not get any easier for Williams'.
There are 2.4 million shares for sale – representing a 27.39 per cent stake in Williams – with the floatation tipped to raise as much as €60 million for the Grove-based concern. Co-founders Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head are both selling some of their shares, and are set to make respectively €16 million and €36 million from the sale.
Team principal Williams has reduced his holding – although in retaining just over 50 per cent, the 68-year-old will remain the majority and controlling shareholder – whilst technical director Head is selling more than half of his 23.5 per cent stake and is due to step down at the end of this year. Austrian private equity investor Christian 'Toto' Wolff is similarly selling some of the 16.3 per cent stake that he acquired in 2009.
The third-most successful team in F1 history – with 16 world championship crowns to its name since joining the grand prix grid back in 1978 – has not claimed a title since 1997 nor even won a race since 2004, but has reportedly made a profit for each of the past three years.
Williams relies on sponsorship and prize money for the bulk of its revenue, but has also investigated the possibility of venturing into hybrid technology for road cars in collaboration with the likes of Porsche and Land Rover.