British energy drinks company Rich Energy is close to finalising a deal to acquire UK-based Formula One motor-racing team Force India, according to the Richmond & Twickenham Times.
The newspaper said talks between the team and the Richmond-based company are in the “very final stages”.
Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed but national newspaper the Daily Mail last month reported that the deal would be worth about £200m (€227m/$279m).
Rich Energy chief executive William Storey told the Times: “Formula One makes a lot of sense to support international expansion and motor racing is the sweet spot for our marketing function.
“As a platform, it’s the pinnacle of motor sport and that’s really where we want to be. To take on Red Bull in Formula One creates a perfect narrative for what we’re doing with our brand.”
Force India is Indian-owned but is based in Silverstone, the home of F1’s British Grand Prix. The team finished fourth in the 2017 constructors’ championship, behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing.
Force India has been the subject of takeover speculation amid issues surrounding its co-owner Vijay Mallya. In June, Mallya rejected talk of a sale of Force India amid reported interest from F1’s former chief executive, Bernie Ecclestone. Australian David Brabham, son of three-time F1 world champion Jack Brabham, was also said to be keen on purchasing the team, but Mallya insisted he had no plans to sell.
Mallya, chairman of Indian conglomerate United Breweries Group, was arrested by British police in April 2017 with the Indian government seeking his extradition back to his home country concerning allegations of fraud. Mallya is being pursued by Indian authorities on charges of money laundering and bank demands that he pay back substantial loans granted to his now-defunct airline.
Mallya has been living in the UK since March 2016 and has refused to return to India to face trial.