Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC, the public listed company controlled by the Williams family that owns the Williams Formula 1 team has sold its majority stake in Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) – the technology arm of the business for an undisclosed sum.
The Williams Group retain a ‘significant minority’ stake.
Created in 2011, Williams Advanced Engineering is responsible for technological innovation in aerospace, marine, defence and healthcare alongside the sectors in which Williams is traditionally associated – motorsport and automotive, in which it has a particularly strong reputation having been instrumental in projects with Nissan, Jaguar and Aston Martin amongst others developing electrification, lightweight structures, aerodynamics and precision manufacture along with a number of other new technologies.
WAE was the sole supplier of batteries for Formula E between 2014 and 2018.
According to Williams’ 2018 annual report, Williams Advanced Engineering accounted for 25% of the total revenue of the Williams Group.
It currently employs around 300 people and has enjoyed significant growth in recent years, which will undoubtedly have made it an attractive proposition to EMK Capital LLP, the private equity firm who now have a controlling stake.
EMK propose to inject funds into WAE in order to accelerate its growth, and make the most of the significant commercial value of its engineering projects, to ‘realise the full potential of the business’.
“We are excited about partnering with WGPH and the WAE management team to support further growth in this exceptional engineering business which has achieved so much in such a short period of time” said Managing Partner of EMK Edmund Lazarus – friend of Tory MP Michael Gove.
What does this mean for Williams F1?
What the sale of Williams Advanced Engineering means for the Williams Formula 1 team is, with the information we have available, unclear.
It’s possible that it’s simply a business opportunity for the Williams Group to maximise their profit from a business they started from scratch and that is currently responsible for a quarter of its revenue, but that yields a much smaller percentage of its profits.
Alternatively it could also be a sign that the Williams Grand Prix team is short of funds, and that the diminished prize money its earned from a lean couple of seasons, combined with the cessation of its deal with Orlen that accompanied Robert Kubica is starting to bite hard, and that Williams are exploring every fundraising avenue available to them ahead of an expensive 2020.