Mercedes-Benz motorsport chief Toto Wolff has finally severed all ties with rival outfit Williams Racing after selling the remainder of his minority shareholding in the Grove squad.
Wolff first invested a 15% stake in Williams Grand Prix Holdings in 2009. After being appointed to lead the factory Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team in 2013, he agreed to sell his shareholding to avoid any perceptions of a conflict of interest, initially selling two-thirds of his stake over a two-year period to the healthcare executive Brad Hollinger.
“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 explained in a press release.
“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.”
Now he has agreed to sell the balance of his shares to Hollinger (pictured right), the Pennsylvania-born founder and CEO of Vibra Healthcare.
“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,” Wolff added.
“Brad is that guy: he’s a serious businessman with the right long-term perspective about Williams and Formula 1 – 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.”
Hollinger now becomes the Williams team’s second-biggest private shareholder, with team owner and founder Sir Frank Williams holding a controlling 52% interest, while fellow co-founder Sir Patrick Head has a 10% stake. The remaining 28% shareholding was publicly floated on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2011.
Image via Central Pennsylvania Business Journal and XPB Images