Frank Williams and Patrick Head say they both remain fully committed to the future of their Formula 1 team and its businesses, despite it being confirmed on Tuesday that they will be selling their own private shares in an imminent stock market Initial Public Offering.
Williams has revealed more details about its IPO, which is due to take place on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange next month and will see the team offer up to 27 percent equity in the outfit to private investors. The biggest shareholding sale will come from Head, who will reduce his stake in Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC from 23.5 percent to just 5.8 percent.
The sale of 17.69 percent of the company is set to net him 46.8 million Euros, based on a midpoint pricing estimate of 26.5 Euros per share. Williams himself is selling a 6.4 percent equity stake in the team – which will be worth 16.9 million Euros – to reduce his ownership to 50.3 percent.
Although the move, which will see the money go to Williams and Head rather than flow back to the team, has prompted talk that the pair could be laying out retirement plans, both men insisted that their focus remains on the team.
"I want to be clear at this point that when we move ahead, I will remain as a major shareholder of this group and I will have endless energy for a long time to come to make sure that the team not only prospers but continues to do better and better on the circuits," Williams said during a press conference in London on Wednesday. "F1 is immensely competitive and there is no time to rest, no time almost to sleep. There are some extraordinarily clever, and driven, above average competent people we have to beat – and to challenge them is quite a challenge."
Head, who is director of engineering at Williams, said he hopes to shift the focus of his role to other business interests of the company – including the successful Williams Hybrid Power – although he would remain on call as always for any requirements the F1 team had.
"I passed the position of technical director to Sam Michael in 2004 and, since then, I've still been quite heavily involved in the process of designing the F1 car, in support of Sam," he said. "From what I observe, I think he [Michael] is more than capable of flying on his own, so with Sam building it and with my support he has built a very good structure within the team.
"Equally, I am 65 this year – and still a pretty healthy 65, I think. I think I have most of my marbles up top still and I can carry on contributing.
"It is the case that Williams is a very strong company in the engineering sense. It always has been and it has always been an aim for Frank and myself to have it that way – and my interest is as an engineer rather than as, what Frank would call, a racer.
"I have always been driven by engineering and I am heavily involved in Williams Hybrid Power. It has its own technical people, but I am heavily involved in the support of that company.
"There are areas where F1 can contribute to other areas of technology, and I shall probably put my attention more to that. Meanwhile I shall keep a watching brief on the F1 side and if there is anywhere I can help, I shall do something. The reports of my demise are premature."