Williams sells minority stake to Austrian investor

With all the money that goes into running an F1 team, and the limited opportunity to make any of it back, we can't see why anyone would view owning a team as a sound investment. Evidently Herr Toto Wollf feels otherwise, as the Austrian financier and gentleman racing driver has acquired a minority interest in Williams Grand Prix Engineering.
This marks the first time in over 30 years of operations that Frank Williams and Patrick Head, the two team principals, have sold shares to an outside party. For his part, Sir Frank insists that business will carry on as usual, that they're not relinquishing control over the team, and that the sale was simply a way of ensuring the team's financial viability. Tellingly, though, he also indicated that Wolff, some 30 years younger than Williams and Head and the veteran of local rallies and international sportscar racing, could take the reins some day in the future.

The announcement comes hot on the heels of reports that Renault – once Williams engine partner during its heyday – was considering a similar move. Follow the jump to read the official announcement, complete with Toto Wolff's bio.

[Source: Williams]

New Shareholder

Frank Williams and Patrick Head announced today that they have sold a minority interest in Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited (Williams F1) to an investment company led by Austrian investor Toto Wolff. Mr Wolff also joins the company's Board.

Biography: Christian Wolff
Nationality: Austrian
Date of Birth: 12 January 1972
Place of Birth: Vienna, Austria
Lives: Mannenbach Salenstein, Switzerland
Languages: German, English, French, Polish & Italian

Founded Marchsixteen Investments
Founded venture capital firm Marchfifteen (Marchfifteen was among the first venture capital companies in central Europe focused on early stage technology financings with offices in Vienna, Berlin, Zürich, Warsaw and Tel Aviv)
1994 -1996
Assistant Sales Director, Koloman Handler AG Austria
1990 - 1994
Vienna University of Economics
Baccalauréat at Lycée Français de Vienna

Investments of Marchfifteen and Marchsixteen since 1998 have included:-
• UCP: Co- financed by T-Mobile in 2000 in one of Austria's largest ever private equity transactions. After re-purchasing the company and merging it with Q-pass, UCP was sold to US group Amdocs (NYSE: DOX) in 2006 at a value of US$ 275 million.
• JoWood Software Production: Seed financing, first financing round and IPO were all led or structured by Marchfifteen.
• Solve Direct: After several financing rounds, Solve Direct was sold to Brainforce, a Vienna listed software group.
• Sysis: Marchfifteen organised the first round of financing and then played a major role in its stock exchange listing in the year 2000. Sysis was subsequently merged and sold for over US$ 50 million to US group VeriSign.
• HWA AG: HWA builds and races Mercedes C-Class cars in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) for Daimler AG and produces Mercedes Formula 3 engines and customised vehicles. HWA successfully listed on the Frankfurt Stock exchange in 2007.
• Fatfoogoo: Following seed financing by Marchsixteen in 2007 and investment by private equity group Gamma Capital Partners, the company was acquired by Digital River in 2008 (NYSE:DRIV).
• Baumschlager Rallye Racing: BRR is among the largest rally parts sellers in Europe and runs the Red Bull Rally Junior Programme. The team won the Production World Championship title in 2008.
• Swissies: Swissies is a market pioneer in revolutionary and healthy children's shoes. After the founders' seed financing, Marchsixteen led the first round of private equity financing.
• Since 2002, Christian Wolff has been involved in the management of upcoming racing drivers and co-owns a driver management company with Mika Häkkinen.

Motorsport Achievements
Austrian Rally Championship runner-up, winner of the Dubai 24hr
FIA GT Championship with Karl Wendlinger
Race winner in the Italian GT/ GT1 class
FIA NGT World Championship, 6th
European Endurance Touring Car Series runner-up, winner of the A1 Ring 6hr, winner of the Misano 6hr, winner of the Brno 6hr
German / Austrian Formula Ford Championship, class winner Nürburgring 24hr
German / Austrian Formula Ford Championship
Austrian Formula Ford Championship

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