Lotus may move production sports cars in China

Pic New Straits Times

Pic New Straits Times

DRB-Hicom group managing director Syed Faisal Albar said Geely will invest 170.3 million ringgit (S$55.1 million) cash and its SUV Boyue platform worth 290 million ringgit for the 49.9 per cent stake in Proton it agreed to buy in May.

Geely chairman Li Shufu said that the priority of the deal is to make Lotus and parent company Proton, which was also acquired by Geely, profitable, reports Bloomberg. Our partnership with DRB-HICOM will enable Proton to become the industry leader in Malaysia and a top three brand in Southeast Asia.

Proton was formed in 1983 as part of an ambitious national industrialisation plan, but has suffered from a reputation for unimaginative models.

"With Geely making Proton their right hand-drive hub for the ASEAN region, Proton can now target the enormous ASEAN passenger auto market for both our existing models and Geely's models". Proton was privatized in 2012 but its new owner, conglomerate DRB-HICOM Berhad, was unable to revive the carmaker.

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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak stands on stage waiting for a signing ceremony between Proton and Geely in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, June 23, 2017.

He also said DRB-Hicom would ensure that Proton would settle the syndicated loan of RM533 million to Malaysian banks.

"From the agreement, we are also looking at moving Proton's plant completely to Tanjung Malim", he said.

But purchasing a controlling stake in British sports-car maker Lotus may be the biggest coup for Geely, which is known mainly for producing low-end cars in its home country.

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Yet Geely still has a long way to go on Proton, even if it has successfully managed to revive Volvo, the Swedish vehicle brand it acquired in 2010. The government has long resisted efforts to sell off any key stake in Proton, seen as a national icon.

"With this strategic partnership, Proton will have the ability and resources to turn itself around and become an example of Malaysian success", said Najib. The government will also supply the carmaker with the remaining 250 million ringgit of a 1.5 billion ringgit soft loan extended previous year.

Among them were that Proton would be given the exclusive rights of Geely's products and latest technology to the region, and access market beyond the SEA and China, he said.

He hoped that the honest collaboration, would also help Proton regain market share in Malaysia and expand to Asean, while helping Lotus penetrate the global market.

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