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Williams talks to the City of London

SIR FRANK WILLIAMS is talking to investment banking company Warburg Dillon Read about the financial future of his Formula 1 team. WDR is the investment banking arm of UBS AG, one of the biggest financial services companies in the world. Williams has confirmed that he has had meetings with the company but declines to say more. There is speculation that he is taking a look at the sort of money he might be able to raise if he reduces his 70% shareholding in the team.

Despite many rumors in recent years Williams has always said that he has no intention of giving up control of the team which he founded in 1978. He is, however, in a good position to take advantage of the interest in F1 at the moment from financial institutions to ensure the long-term future of his family.

Williams F1 has a turnover of around $100m a year and makes profits of around $15m. This could mean that the team could be worth as much as $500m. Williams's partner in the team - engineer Patrick Head - owns 30% of the shares and so Williams could easily sell 20% to a merchant bank and still retain his control of the business. This could raise as much as $100m for Frank and his family. Such a move would not be a surprise as several F1 team bosses have made similar moves in recent months, notably Bernie Ecclestone, Ron Dennis, Eddie Jordan and Alain Prost. Several other F1 teams are believed to be discussing deals with merchant banks.

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