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Volume 6 No. 234


Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC, which includes Williams Grand Prix Engineering Ltd. and Williams Hybrid Power Ltd., which combines the traditional F1 business and activity that commercializes F1 derived intellectual property, reported a loss before taxation of £5M ($7.7M), according to the Group’s financial results for the year ended Dec. 31. The loss  came as a result of the ipact of a technical accounting treatment of one of the Group's key receipts during the year. The F1 team saw its turnover increase from £102.3M to £124.3M ($192.2M). This has led to an increase in overall Group turnover of 22% to £127M ($196.4M) (2011: £104.5M) (Williams F1).

NEW INVESTMENT: BLOOMBERG's Alex Duff reported the F1 team’s sponsorships did not "offset costs and investment on hybrid technology." Williams "relies on sponsorship and prize money for most of its revenue." In '08, the team "began developing energy-saving flywheels for cars and public transport." The shares have lost 12% of their value this year. CEO Alex Burns said that non-F1 revenue from the Williams Advanced Engineering brand rose to £38M ($58.8M) in '12 from £16M a year earlier. Burns said, "The growth of these new investment businesses at a time of global financial instability" puts the company on a sound footing to deliver its long-term strategy (BLOOMBERG, 4/29).

MOVING FORWARD: In London, Kevin Eason wrote Williams Grand Prix Holdings revealed its annual accounts "showing sales up but profits down." However, the company "is pushing ahead with an ambitious growth strategy away from the Formula One team" founded by Frank Williams more than 30 years ago. Williams "has been flourishing away from the track." Turnover increased 22% to £127M but "resulted in the deficit because of accounting technicalities." Williams has "made steady progress" across its range of activities, including development of high-technology. Audi’s Le Mans-winning car "used Williams hybrid technology and the business is now developing systems for buses and trams." Williams is "building a new technology centre at their headquarters in Oxfordshire" (LONDON TIMES, 4/29). REUTERS' Keith Weir reported "the highlight on the track for Williams last season was a victory in the Spanish Grand Prix for Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado." The team finished eighth out of 12 in the constructors' championship. Founder & Team Principal Frank Williams said, "There is still a way to go for the team to get to where we should be, but improvements on previous seasons are evident" (REUTERS, 4/29).

League Championship club Blackburn Rovers have been ordered to pay £2.25M ($3.5M) to former Manager Henning Berg "after he won a claim against the club at court," according to James Riach of the London GUARDIAN. Berg was sacked in December after just 57 days in charge, but "will now be paid for the remaining two-and-a-half-years of his contract." Blackburn admitted during last week's Manchester court proceedings the club is "out of control," and has sacked three managers this season. A request to appeal the decision "was dismissed by the judge" on Monday (GUARDIAN, 4/29). In London, Mark Ogden reported Berg "was not in court to hear Judge Mark Pelling dismiss attempts" by Blackburn's owners, Venky's, to avoid paying Berg for the remainder of his contract. Venky's lawyers had argued that Blackburn Managing Dir Derek Shaw "did not have the authority to sanction the compensation terms agreed with Berg as part of his contract" (TELEGRAPH, 4/29).

MAKING MONEY: REUTERS' Mike Collett reported Blackburn's behavior and business dealings "were ridiculed by the judge," who added that it should pay Berg £20,000 ($31,000) in interim costs. Attempts by Blackburn's legal team to lodge an appeal were refused by the judge as "unrealistic," but Venky's has "the option of pursuing the matter at the Court of Appeal" (REUTERS, 4/29). In London, Ian Herbert reported Blackburn had "initially agreed that they would pay Berg the contract in full but then changed their minds." The hearing "was their attempt to get their initial agreement withdrawn" (INDEPENDENT, 4/29). EUROSPORT reported Berg "will have effectively earnt" £38,596 ($58,000) per day for 57 days, £183,333 ($283,400) for every spot he dropped them down the Championship table (12, from fifth to 17th), £275,000 ($426,000) for each goal worse he made their goal difference (eight, from +5 to -3) and £220,000 ($341,000) per match (EUROSPORT, 4/29).

The revenues of VF Corp. went up by only 2% in the first quarter ended March 31, hitting $2.6M, due to delayed shipments of spring/summer merchandise and a tough comparison with the strong first quarter of '12. However, the group’s gross margin rose by 2.4 percentage points to 48.1%, setting a new all-time record for any quarter (ISPO). ... Sporting goods companies in Europe, Russia and Brazil are going to collaborate more closely with customs authorities to fight against counterfeiting (ISPO).