The Sahara Force India F1 team has downplayed reports that the Rich Energy drinks company is close to buying the Formula 1 team.
The company has long been linked to the Silverstone outfit, but if recent months speak any truth the interest appears to have waned.
Now, boss William Storey has claimed that a formal offer was made in April. He also said that a deal with shareholders Vijay Mallya, the Sahara Group, and Michiel Mol was close to being inked.
“In light of ill-informed media speculation and certain external moves to destabilise the team, I can confirm that Rich Energy made an official offer to buy Force India Formula 1 team at the end of April,” Storey said.
“This offer was accepted in principle, and we are close to finalising purchase with SPA [sales and purchase agreement].
“We have deposited funds considerably in excess of the purchase price and will invest an additional eight-figure amount in the team.”
Storey already has some outside sponsorship: “We have a long-term business plan that not only involves our beverage brand but two multi-national corporate sponsors who are not currently in Formula 1.
“We have found the shareholders to be excellent people with the team’s and employees’ best interests at heart. We aim to conclude a deal as soon as practicable and the lawyers approve.”
Force India F1 Deputy team principal Bob Fernley admitted that talks were taking place but said a deal was no closer to being completed than previously.
“It’s no secret that they’ve been interested, but so have other people,” he said. “There’s nothing moved forward to my knowledge.
“We’ve not been instructed about anything yet. All those issues are dealt with by the shareholders, they’re not a team issue, so we don’t have any involvement in it at all.”