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Force India dismisses fresh energy drinks firm F1 takeover rumour

Esteban Ocon Force India Canadian Grand Prix 2018

Force India has played down fresh reports that the Rich Energy drinks concern is on the verge of concluding a deal to buy the Formula 1 team.

The company has been linked with the Silverstone outfit for some time, although in recent months its reported interest appeared to have faded away.

But its boss William Storey has now claimed that a formal offer was made in April, and that a deal is close to being concluded with shareholders Vijay Mallya, the Sahara Group, and Michiel Mol.

"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 told the Daily Telegraph.

"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 said he already had 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."

Esteban Ocon Force India Canadian Grand Prix 2018

Deputy team principal Bob Fernley acknowledged 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 told Autosport. "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."

Last week Mallya, who has recently stepped down as the team's director, denied that a sale was close.

"Rumours keep going on and on and on, and people talk and talk and talk," he told Autosport. "That's what the F1 paddock is all about.

"The finance of Force India, whether I'm selling or not selling, has been a matter of speculation on and off for many years.

"We don't go around with a 'for sale' sign. The bottom line is that we are focusing on getting the best performance out of the car, and that is our priority. We're focusing on getting more sponsors.

"There are three shareholders, remember, I'm not the only one. If somebody comes along with a serious offer, and puts cash on the table, we will jointly consider it."

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