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Williams F1 Drops in Frankfurt Trading After $83 Million IPO

Williams Grand Prix Holding Plc retreated in Frankfurt after its 60 million-euro ($83 million) initial public offering, the first time a Formula One motor sport team has sold shares to the public.

The stock declined 2.5 percent to 24.38 euros at the 5:30 p.m. close in Frankfurt electronic trading, compared with the IPO price of 25 euros. That valued the Grove, England-based company at about 244 million euros.

Co-founders Frank Williams, 68, and Patrick Head, 65, said they took the decision to sell some of their shares to help shore up the company’s future. Williams reduced his stake in the nine-time champion team to just over 50 percent while Head, who will leave after this year, has sold most of his 23.5 percent stake, according to the share-sale prospectus. Austrian investor Toto Wolff, who acquired a holding in 2009, also sold some of his shares after the sale was fully subscribed.

“It’s always brave to come to the market but being brave is what we do,” Chairman Adam Parr said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. The retreat in the first hour of trading isn’t “overly” concerning, Parr said in the morning.

The IPO is the third in Germany this year. Derby Cycle AG, a bicycle maker, and RIB Software AG, a software solutions provider, both listed on the Frankfurt electronic trading platform last month.

Senna, Prost

Frank Williams founded the company, whose former champion drivers include Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, in 1977 and won the last of its constructors’ championships in 1997. The team finished sixth in last year’s 12-team standings, which were won by energy-drink maker Red Bull GmbH’s squad.

Williams had net income of 3.9 million pounds ($6.3 million) from sales of 74.2 million pounds in the 10 months to Oct. 31 2010, the IPO prospectus said.

The Formula One company relies on sponsorship and prize money for most of its revenue, although it has explored making hybrid technology for road cars with partners including Porsche SE and Tata Motors Ltd.’s Jaguar Land Rover.

Cyrte Investments BV, an investment fund controlled by Aviva Plc’s Dutch Delta Lloyd unit, said it bought 5 percent of Williams after the listing.

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