Toto Wolff has sold his remaining shares in Williams Grand Prix Holdings. An option to buy Wolff’s shares was taken up by US healthcare executive Brad Hollinger last week. Wolff first invested in Williams in 2009 and together with the management launched its IPO on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2011, he subsequently played an active role in restructuring the senior management of the team and became executive director of Williams in 2012 before being asked to join the rival Mercedes team.
“I am surprised how emotional I am about this day, to be cutting my final business ties to Sir Frank and to the team at Williams,” Wolff says, taking part in the teleconference while atending a sponsor event on an ice lake in the Arctic Circle. “Having entered the team from a pure investment perspective, I soon found myself in a much more active role, helping to restructure this great independent Formula 1 team. I am proud to have joined the sport with a team of true passionate racers, where we had to make spot-on decisions for the future of the business and its employees; I learned some lessons the hard way, but they were all valuable for understanding the industry. Today, I look back with pride on the first ever IPO of an F1 team in Frankfurt, and can see the next generation of the Williams family leading the team into a bright future. The plan to sell my stake was a long-term one agreed with Daimler in 2013 – but it was always important to find the right investor, who was doing it for the right reasons. Brad is that guy: he’s a serious businessman with the right long-term perspective about Williams and Formula One – and a true passion for racing. I wish him and everybody at Williams all the best for the future. I will always remember this period with thanks for the lessons I learned from Sir Frank and his team – it was a great privilege to be part of the Williams story.”
The team is still controlled by Sir Frank Williams, who owns slightly over 52 percent. Hollinger is now the second shareholder with around 15 percent of the shares, followed by Patrick Head with 9.3 percent and the Williams staff, who own nearly 4 percent of the business. The remainder on the shares (just over 20 percent) are traded on the Frankfurt Xetra Stock Exchange.
“It is a day of mixed emotions,” said Claire Williams. “Toto has been such a big part of our teams. He came to Williams at a time when there was instability within the team and he really helped to stabilise the ship.”
The team says that there are no discussions at the moment with the Stroll family about any possible shareholdings in the future.