Naza Group is “believed” to be giving up its Kia and Peugeot distributorship in Malaysia according to a news report by New Straits Times, with Bermaz Auto looking likely to take over the role. The publication says that the decision was accelerated by the soft automotive market post Covid-19.

Sources told the publication that Bermaz Auto, which currently handles the Mazda brand in Malaysia, has emerged as the “frontrunner” to take over the South Korean and French marques, but is also facing competition from other interested parties including Sime Darby and Berjaya Group.

The change of distributorship will still require approval from the respective brands’ principals, but the report stated that Bermaz is set to take over in particular the Kia franchise “lock, stock, and barrel”. However, it remains to be seen if the Naza Automotive Manufacturing plant in Gurun – which assembles Kia and Peugeot models – will be included in this deal, due to a previous joint venture deal between Naza and Groupe PSA.

Adding to the speculations, New Straits Times’ sources also said that Naza Group has already sold its Kia branches to its dealers, and a former top executive from a big local fund has been tasked to dispose the Kia franchise.

Rumours surrounding the Kia and Peugeot takeover started when Bermaz Auto CEO Datuk Francis Lee commented on BFM’s Breakfast Grille radio show that the company was in the works to expand its franchise portfolio, though stopped just short of disclosing the brand. However, NST’s sources remarked that “Kia will (likely) come in to BAuto [sic] first”.

Aside from Kia and Peugeot, Naza Group also holds the distributorship for Citroen, DS, Ferrari, Maserati, and Ducati, among others. Earlier this year, Naza Group was also rumoured to reintroduce the Suzuki brand in Malaysia, though news on the development of the deal has simmered down since then.

Naza Kia Malaysia is slated to debut the Kia Seltos in the country very soon, after opening the ordering books for the compact SUV model last month.