Brawn GP made a profit of £98.5m in 2009, according to accounts filed by current owners Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd, having made just £1.3m under Honda in 2008.
The team had sales of £234.5m – an increase of 38% over the last year under Honda. The sales figure includes sponsorship income, ‘Bernie money’ (but in essence owed from 2008, not based on 2009 performances), and payments from Honda. Sources say that one-off sponsorship deals were far more lucrative than may have appeared to outsiders.
One intriguing number suggests that Honda paid the team a total of £92.5m during the year – a figure that almost matches up with the overall profit. It’s known that Honda bankrolled the team fully until March, and in effect paid for the development of the car, but presumably the rest was a ‘dowry’ to help keep the team going.
The directors were paid £8.4m during the year, with one director – assumed to be Ross Brawn – earning £4.7m of that amount. The other directors were Nick Fry and three senior members of the former Honda team who took it over when the Japanese manufacturer pulled out, namely Nigel Kerr (finance), John Marsden (HR), Caroline McGrory (legal), plus Gordon Blair. All but Ross resigned as directors in December.
The filing also says that the directors loaned £3.4m to the team in March 2009, at a critical point in its campaign to survive. That loan was repaid during the year.
It’s also confirmed that Daimler (via Mercedes UK) and Abu Dhabi investment concern Aabar acquired 75.1% of the team between them as of December 24. Brawn and his colleagues mentioned above still own the rest.
The current shareholders, ie Mercedes, Aabar and the former Brawn directors, split a dividend of £20m between them based on the above percentages. In other words having bought the team the new owners instantly got £15m back.
Although paper figures don’t always fully reflect the real world, the profit figure will no doubt be of interest to Jenson Button, who took a massive pay cut prior to winning the World Championship, and then could not agree terms with the team for 2010.
Having said that the accounts also reveal a ‘Contract Settlement Fee’ of £10m paid to Button to formally end his Honda deal before the Brawn adventure started…