Williams is considering a partial or even full sale of the Formula 1 team as part of a new strategic direction aimed at securing its future.
On the back of increased financial pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Grove-based outfit said on Friday that one option it is looking at is a sale – with it beginning a process to look for interested parties.
A statement from the team said: “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.
“Whilst no decisions have been made regarding the optimal outcome yet, to facilitate discussions with interested parties, the Company announces the commencement of a "formal sale process.”
Williams has appointed joint financial advisers to assist in its review and find parties who could be interested in investment or a takeover.
The outfit said that it had not had any discussions yet about being bought, but there had been talks regarding investment opportunities.
“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,” it added.
“There can be no certainty that an offer will be made, nor as to the terms on which any offer will be made. The WGPH board reserves the right to alter or terminate the process at any time and if it does so it will make an announcement as appropriate.
"The WGPH board also reserves the right to reject any approach or terminate discussions with any interested party at any time.”
The announcement about the team’s strategic review comes as the Williams group revealed its 2019 financial figures, which resulted in a loss of £13 million – compared to a profit of £12.9 million the previous year.
Group revenue declined to £160.2m in 2019, from £176.5m in 2018. Its F1 revenue declined to £95.4 million from £130.7m in 2018, with losses of £10.1 million compared to a profit of £16 million the previous year.
Williams terminates ROKit deal
Chief executive officer Mike O’Driscoll said the fall in income was a result of a big hit in commercial rights income because of its lack of competitiveness.
O’Driscoll also revealed the team had served notice to terminate its title sponsorship deal with ROKit, who had been due to run until the end of 2023.
A subsequent tweet from the team confirmed that termination of the deal was effective immediately.
“The financial results for 2019 reflect the recent decline in competitiveness of the F1 operation and the consequent reduction in commercial rights income” said O’Driscoll.
“The 2020 Formula 1 season has, of course, been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this will have an impact on our commercial rights income this year.
"The Team have also served notice to terminate its relationship with its title partner, ROKiT, and major sponsor, ROK Drinks. In common with many other businesses, we have taken extensive action to mitigate, including a prolonged furlough period for much of our staff.
"As this awful global crisis recedes, everyone at Williams Racing is looking forward to the start of the new season.”