Canadian Food Tycoon Rescues Struggling Formula 1 Team
An ailing Formula 1 team has won a lifeline with the help of Canadian food processing tycoon Michael Latifi at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has virtually shutdown the sport.
Williams Formula 1, which has finished in last place for two seasons in a row, was given a multi-million pound loan by Latifi secured by its cars and factory in Oxfordshire, England, the Telegraph reported on Friday. The team trades on the Frankfurt stock exchange and is 52.3% owned by its founder Frank Williams.
The team, set up by Williams in 1977, used to be one of Britain’s most successful, going on to win several championships in the 1980s, but has struggled in recent years. The team posted a loss of 20.9 million pounds ($26 million) on 77.8 million pounds of revenue in the first half of last year. The coronavirus pandemic has made matters worse; the team decided to temporarily furlough some of its employees, while senior management and race drivers have taken a 20% pay cut from the beginning of April.
“These decisions have not been taken lightly, however our aim is to protect the jobs of our staff at Grove and ensuring they can return to full-time work when the situation allows,” the team said in a statement at the time.
To ensure its survival as F1 puts its season on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, Williams have relied on Latifi, a fervent fan of the sport and the father of team driver Nicholas Latifi. Williams may eventually come under his ownership, as the loan is secured by the team’s contract to race in F1.
Latifi is the owner of Sofina Foods Inc, Canada’s second-largest food company, which already sponsors the team, and he has provided the loan through his Latrus Racing company. The loan was finalized at the beginning of April and the Telegraph said it could be worth at least 50 million pounds given the value of the team’s cars at 20 million pounds and its land and buildings worth 30.7 million pounds, according to the team’s latest accounts. The Telegraph said that the loan’s documents do not state how much has been transferred.
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