Toto Wolff announced that he has sold his remaining shares in the Williams team. The Mercedes team boss still held just shy of 5% and had sold 5% of his holdings back in February of 2015. That added to the 5% he sold the year before. In total, Wolff has sold his 15% stake in the team.
The buyer is American healthcare executive Brad Hollinger who now owns nearly 15% of the team. Last year Hollinger had purchased shares from Wolff and raised his stake in the team to 10%. At the time, Wolff said he had no plans of selling the remaining 5% but apparently he’s had a change of mind.
Wolff originally bought into the team back in 2009 but since took the position of team boss at Mercedes while his wife, a professional driver, remained at Williams as a reserve driver. She has since retired from racing.
Hollinger is the head of Vibra Healthcare and is also founder and CEO of The Hollinger Group, a senior care company with 17 facilities operating in four states. Last year Hollinger didn’t mince words about why he was investing in Williams:
“I am never in business not to make money,” Hollinger said. “I think there is a huge opportunity in Formula One.
“It has not really tapped significantly the whole social media route in terms of streaming information out to the masses on whatever medium you might choose,” he added.
“Formula One has been incredibly successful despite the fact it has not really taken hold significantly in the U.S. and I think the opportunity exists…I think the future is really bright in the United States.”
I am assuming he doesn’t frequent Formula1blog.com very much but we are trying to use social media, Brad, and we are American.
Williams is still majority owned by Sir Frank Williams at 52% and Hollinger at 15% with Williams co-founder, Patrick Head, at 10% and the remaining 20-ish percent listed on the Entry Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
There is no executive role for Hollinger and interestingly no sponsor logos on the car. Perhaps he could start unleashing that American opportunity by putting a sticker on the car? American involvement in F1 is certainly there and while much has been made, rightfully so, of Haas F1’s fledgling year, there really is very little mention of who is invested in, supplies or works in F1 from America. It’s actually quite a lot to be honest.
Toto Wolff said:
“I am surprised how emotional I am about this day, to be cutting my final business ties to [team founder] Sir Frank Williams and to the team at Williams.
“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 F1 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.”
Sir Frank Williams said:
“Given his role at Mercedes-Benz, a full divestment in Toto’s shareholding became inevitable and we thank him for this judiciousness in only selling to a suitable buyer when the time was right.
“In Brad Hollinger, Toto has sold his full shareholding to a highly successful businessman with an immense passion for Formula 1 and our team – he is a great asset.”
That must be the “change of mind” Toto had since last year, well played Sir Frank. Important to keep the fox out of the hen house my friend…that’s an American saying by the way.