We’re almost at the end of the line with this one. DRB-HICOM announced that Proton Holdings’ new foreign strategic partner will be Geely Automobile, one of at least five bidders for the spot. The Chinese giant is agreeable to a 49.9 percent stake and will acquire a controlling stake (51 percent) of Lotus Cars.
One of the immediate benefits of this partnership for Geely is the utilisation of Proton’s manufacturing hub in Tanjung Malim to produce its products, among which is the right-hand drive variant of the Lynk & Co 01 SUV for export. Geely said it will assist Proton with any available technology and resources to regain some of the global presence they have lost in recent years.
Meanwhile, Geely seems adamant in acquiring Lotus in full. Besides gaining access to the British carmaker’s engineering prowess, Geely is equally optimistic about the brand’s future. If Volvo’s current success is anything to go by, perhaps Lotus will soon have their share of taste in success as well. Proton’s shares are suspended for the day pending this vital announcement.
Proton, once the prideful carmaker of our country’s, has been in the reds ever since they lost their coveted top spot to Perodua. Last year, Proton took a RM1.5 billion soft loan from the Malaysian government, but with the condition that Proton must seek a foreign strategic partner as part of its turnaround plan or risk winding up. Even with the launch of four new models last year, Proton struggled to deliver in the first quarter of the year, falling behind Perodua and Honda.
Other bidders for the partnership include Groupe PSA, Suzuki Motors, Skoda and Renault. Groupe PSA was also close to securing Proton after expressing interest in locally assembling their SUVs in Tanjung Malim.
The deal, which was signed today, is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval. The definitive agreement between both parties is expected to be announced by July 2017.