By now you all must have known that Team Lotus belongs to Tony Fernandes and company after last Friday’s verdict from UK court. Group Lotus (aka Team Proton) may have won the case where they have the rights to use the name Lotus in F1, but the iconic Formula One team name, “Team Lotus” belongs to Tony Fernandes. So, it’s a win-win verdict, and everyone should be happy.
You may also remember Dany Bahar, Group Lotus CEO that shocked the world last year with the announcement of 6 new Lotus models to be released in the next 5 years. Recently, there are sources revealing that Dany Bahar may have mentioned and considering to separate Group Lotus from Malaysian parent Proton, which has owned Lotus since 1996.
Bahar believes that in order to move Lotus forward, they would preferred to tie-up to a larger global automaker, such as Toyota or Volkswagen, through either an alliance or selling their company’s stake. A small company like Proton is not good enough hence he would prefer a giant global automaker, to provide funds and technology to bring Lotus into the same league with Porsche and Ferrari. Also, he did suggest the company could be spun off, floated and publicly traded.
Among Bahar’s plans:
1. An aggressive new-model development program served as a platform for the new 5 models for Lotus.
2. Considerations to outsource manufacturing work to Magna-Steyr in Austria.
3. A proper new-model development work for owner Proton. New Satria Neo in the making? Could be the Proton Emas.
4. An all-new V6/V8 engine to be built internally for future Lotus models.
You may be smitten by Group Lotus ambitious plans, but bear in mind, in order to do so, billions in investment is needed in which Group Lotus does not have since: 1.) they still a money losing company and 2.) Proton don’t have much money. In early 2011, a consortium of six financial institutions has pledged and approved a loan package worth £270 million (RM1.33 billion) to Group Lotus for their plans.
So after Bahar receives the money, how could he mention about parting Group Lotus from Proton? Could this be a sign of another potential leakage Malaysia is facing after much money losing scandals the country has faced over the last few years. Malaysia Airlines was almost bankrupt, the Port Klang Free Trade Zone project faced RM6 billions in loses due to corruption and many more, will this be a nail to the coffin of Proton by Bahar?
Regardless what it may be, I feel somehow Malaysian Maverick entrepreneur Tony Fernandes will have his last laugh, just don’t ask me why. But of course, we hope Proton can retain Group Lotus and take it to greater heights. However things look gloomy and uncertain for now.
[SOURCE: InsideLine, Aronline]