Ratcliffe and Wolff share £75m dividend from Mercedes-Benz F1 team as revenues see 25% boost

Ratcliffe and Wolff share £75m dividend from Mercedes-Benz F1 team as revenues see 25% boost

11 Oct    Finance News, News

The Formula One tycoon Toto Wolff and the petrochemicals empire of billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe have taken a share of a £75m dividend from the Mercedes racing team behind Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix recorded a jump in revenues in 2022 aided by a bump in sponsorship and its work on the America’s Cup sailing championship, despite a disappointing season on the F1 track.

Revenues at the British company behind the racing team jumped by 24% to £475m in 2022, with pre-tax profits rising to £113m from nearly £72m the year before.

In March, the company approved a £75m dividend to shareholders related to its performance in 2022, up from £55m paid during 2022 based on its 2021 performance, according to accounts filed at Companies House on Tuesday.

The company is equally owned by a company ultimately controlled by Mercedes-Benz AG, the car brand’s German owner, the Formula One team principal, Austrian billionaire Wolff and a subsidiary of Ineos, which is controlled by Ratcliffe.

Ratcliffe, the second-richest person in the UK according to the Sunday Times rich list, has a string of sports assets and is reportedly considering changing his bid and buying a minority stake in Manchester United.

Mercedes’ financial performance indicates the increasing health of teams in the motorsport, in which it is notoriously difficult – particularly for smaller teams – for companies to turn a profit.

The sport’s governing body, the FIA, the commercial rights holder, Liberty Media and the teams agreed to introduce a cost cap in 2021, limiting spending in an attempt to make the championship more competitive.

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Formula One has also been boosted by the arrival of a new generation of fans, notably in the US, after the success of Netflix series Drive to Survive.

Lewis Hamilton finished sixth in the Formula One championship last year, after his narrow 2021 defeat to Max Verstappen, who completed a hat-trick of consecutive championship wins last weekend. Hamilton is in third place this season.

His Mercedes teammate George Russell finished fourth in his debut season last year. The team scored just one win and one pole position, and finished third behind Red Bull and Ferrari in the constructors championship.

Wolff said changes to technical regulations in the sport had led to a “challenging season” and that the “less competitive on-track performance translated into a reduced share of television coverage during the 2022 season”.

However, Wolff said turnover had increased “primarily from higher revenues from Formula One, sponsorship and applied science”. Mercedes’ applied science division, formed in 2019, offers engineering and other services to clients and the company noted its support for Ineos Britannia, the British sailing team that will compete in next year’s America’s Cup.

During last year, Mercedes completed the acquisition of properties at its campus in Brackley, Northamptonshire. The company plans to make a £70m upgrade to the site, due to be completed in 2025.

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