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Geely Auto to acquire full control of Lotus Cars, 49.9 percent of Proton

After successfully closing a deal with Volvo in 2010, China’s Geely is now securing full ownership of Lotus -- the maker of Exige, Evora, Elise and 3-Eleven. The Chinese car company will be taking a 51% stake in Lotus from Proton as well as a 49.9% stake from DRB-Hicom, Proton’s parent company in Malaysia. Based on the agreement, Geely will have full control of the British sports car company since it will be purchasing the Malaysian-based conglomerate’s entire 51% stake.

Geely, owner of Sweden’s Volvo Car Group and London Taxi Company has promised to boost Lotus’ full potentials by increasing the development of its new products and technologies. The British sports car maker, as we know, has been merely updating its older models recently.

Since 2014, Lotus Chief Executive Jean-Marc Gales has been doing the best he could to revive the company after two decades of unstable profit. Not known to many, Lotus was completely banned in the US market after failing to meet the latest safety regulations of its airbags in 2015. It was only in the previous summer that Lotus products were once again allowed to be sold in the US.

Read the entire article Geely Auto to acquire full control of Lotus Cars, 49.9 percent of Proton

Vw wants to make new bid for Proton in pursuit of worldwide dominance

Volkswagen AG is thinking about making a new bid for Proton as VW seeks to enter emerging southeast Asian markets in its pursuit of worldwide dominance, according to sources. In 2007, VW didn’t succeed to create a tie-up with Proton, a Malaysian-based automaker. Europe's largest carmaker may attempt to get either a minority holding in the owner of UK sports-car manufacturer Lotus or a controlling stake, the sources added.

VW builds the Passat sedan in partnership with Malaysian automotive and property conglomerate DRB-HICOM at its plant in Pekan. VW, which doesn’t have a plant in Malaysia, is also planning to build the Jetta and Polo models at DRB-HICOM's factory.

Christoph Stuermer, a Frankfurt-based analyst at research firm IHS Automotive, said that Toyota is claiming the market “as its own backyard." He said that the company wants to be in southeast Asia, a region that has a significant role in VW's global expansion plan. According to German publication Manager Magazin, VW was thinking about making another bid for Proton, saying that its plans may include a full-scale acquisition in the long term.

Read the entire article Vw wants to make new bid for Proton in pursuit of worldwide dominance

Lotus CEO told to continue five-year program amidst Proton sale

The chief executive of Lotus Group Plc, Dany Bahar, has received instructions to carry on his five-year program to replace the entire Lotus model range, despite the fact that its Malaysian owner, Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional (Proton), is currently being acquired by DRB Hicom.

Bahar revealed that the company’s work at its Hethel site will experience a slowdown over the next two months since Malaysian law requires a 60-day change-of-ownership process, during which period Lotus would not have access to Proton funds.“We have explained our plans to the new owner and have been told to keep going as we are,” Bahar told told Autocar in an exclusive interview.

The Lotus chief executive said that the company’s immediate problem is to manage the cash in the business carefully during the 60-day pause, adding that he is confident that this is a temporary technical issue.

Read the entire article Lotus CEO told to continue five-year program amidst Proton sale

VW considers Proton Holdings partnership, studies expansion in Malaysia

Volkswagen mulls over the expansion of production in Malaysia. It has sent senior executives, including management board members, to study the operations of Proton Holdings for a possible partnership, a person familiar with the matter has disclosed. The largest automaker in Europe is studying the potential of manufacturing automobiles at Proton plants after its partner DRB-Hicom concurred last month to purchase 43 percent of the Malaysian company, said the insider want anonymity due to the confidentiality of the discussions.

 The insider further disclosed that the executives are studying whether the facilities are fit to build VW models, as the company is thinking about creating a production hub in Malaysia. In this way, it can target Southeast Asian markets.

Analyst Ahmad Maghfur Usman at OSK Holdings commented that Volkswagen is expanding because it has yet to have "big presence" in Southeast Asia. He further stated that the company can start developing its market share in countries like Thailand and Indonesia.

Read the entire article VW considers Proton Holdings partnership, studies expansion in Malaysia

Right after investors advised Proton to sell Lotus, it appears that the Australian manufacturer made a move. Today it was announced that billionaire Syed Mokhtar Al- Bukhary’s DRB-Hicom Bhd. agreed to buy a 43 percent stake in Proton for 1.29 billion ringgit ($410 million). According to Bloomberg, DRB-Hicom Bhd. will buy 234.7 million Proton shares, a 43 percent stake, for 5.50 ringgit apiece from state-owned Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

This means that the offer is 6.2 percent higher than the Malaysian carmaker’s last closing price. Same price will be extended to all remaining stockholders, according to the statement. Apparently, things don’t look good for Proton, as the manufacturer headed for its second year of profit declines. For those who don’t know, DRB-Hicom distributes and assembles vehicles for Volskwagen AG and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz.

Due to Proton’s bad sales, DRB-Hicom will be able to widen his share of the Southeast Asian country’s car industry. The deal will give DRB control of two Malaysian car plants with the capacity to make a combined 350,000 vehicles per year. Malayan Banking will be the investment banking arm for the deal and was hired by DRB-Hicom and according to media reports, the company will use internal funds or borrow externally to fund the purchase.

Read the entire article DRB-Hicom to buy Proton

Lotus’ expansion is being hampered by recent reports that the stake of the Malaysian government in Proton would be sold. Bloomberg said that due to speculation that control of Proton would be sold, its value increased by 50% in Kuala Lumpur trading this month. DRB-Hicom, from the local Malaysian car industry, is likely to get the majority holding.

According to investment experts, the new owner would probably have to divest itself of Proton’s 64% stake in Lotus Group International so that it could raise capital, which will be used to boost Proton’s market share in its domestic Malaysian market.

Proton’s profits dropped by 76% in the past quarter -- which is why it is being seen as a threat. Two Kuala Lumpur investment advisors, Gan Eng Peng of HwangDBS Investment and Alexander Chia of RHB Capital, told Bloomberg that a new Proton owner would find a Lotus sale to be sensible. But Lotus may not survive the sale if it means that a certain credit line would end.

Read the entire article Lotus business plan in doubt now that Proton is considering selling the British manufacturer

Investors of Malaysia's Proton Holdings Bhd. are pressuring the company to sell off British sports-car maker Lotus. Since Proton took control of Lotus in 1996, no profit has been made from Lotus. It’s not likely to make profit until at least 2014. With the possibility that Proton would be divested by its parent (which is run by the state), investors like Gan Eng Peng believe that it’s time for Lotus Group International Ltd. to be sold.

Gan, who helps manage around $3.6 billion as head of equities at HwangDBS Investment Management Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur, said, “It will make sense for them to sell it." He said that Proton and Lotus are in different market segments whether you consider the geography or the product and so they “are not a good fit.”

Lotus, which has been a weak rival against Porsche AG and Ferrari S.p.A. in Europe, is barely able to stay relevant in this industry due to its long-term expertise in designing lightweight frames. But Gan believes that Lotus will need the support of an automaker that’s more global than Proton so that it could survive in this industry.

Read the entire article Proton investors pressuring the company to sell Lotus

Two insiders said that talks have started between General Motors Co. and Proton Holdings to create a manufacturing venture in Malaysia, where Proton is the top automaker. The sources said that the parties resumed negotiations that were terminated in 2007. Still, these are only preliminary talks and there’s no certainty that it will result to a deal.

Under this deal, GM would be able to expand its car production beyond Thailand, which has been experiencing floods in nearly 70 years.

In the past, Proton’s alliance talks with Volkswagen and PSA/Peugeot Citroen have failed. With this new deal, Proton will get access to GM technology that would aid it in increasing exports. Alexander Chia, an analyst at RHB Capital Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur, said that Proton offers “immediate availability of production capacity." He added that currently, all of GM’s Southeast Asia interests are in Thailand.

Read the entire article GM wants to revive its partnership with Proton

As you may know already, few days ago we announced you that GENII Capital may take a bigger stake in Group Lotus, the well-known sports car manufacturer owned by Malaysian carmaker Proton. Reading the news on the Internet, Proton denied the reports which appeared online and said that these were "untrue" and "highly speculative in nature." Proton also added that its priority is to ensure that the Lotus business plan is executed.

As you may know already, Lotus unveiled plenty of concepts back in September 2010 at the Paris Motor Show and now the market waits for these vehicles. Lotus is planning to double its global cars sales to 7,000 units by 2015 and looking at the 2,700 units sold this year we must admit that they have plenty of work and must launch new models asap in order to boost sales.

"Proton and Lotus have reached a juncture whereby the market is eagerly waiting for Lotus' new products and all our energy and efforts have to be channelled towards achieving this critical goal," said the official statement, according to Autonews.

Read the entire article Proton denies reports that Lotus is for sale

Talks are ongoing between Proton Holdings and CIMB and several other domestic banks to be granted a substantial loan in the amount of £480 million ($768 million) to spend on Group Lotus’ five-year transformation plan.

Proton Managing Director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin told Malaysian reporters at the Lotus headquarters in Norfolk, England, that the majority of the funds would be in the form of bank loans borrowed by Proton on behalf of its wholly-owned subsidiary.

Abidin said that by itself, Group Lotus is unable to raise that amount and this is why Proton came in as the entire five-year turnaround exercise has to benefit the whole group.

Read the entire article Proton seeks financing for Lotus’ five-year transformation plan

Lotus CEO Dany Bahar confirmed that the Proton Emas and Lotus City Car concept cars have been given the go signal production. These small cars will be developed by three companies (Proton, Lotus and another manufacturer that has yet to be named) and are expected to arrive in Asian markets in late 2013.

The Emas will be made exclusively for Asian customers, while Lotus will make a sportier variant and the other company will build a standard version for the European market. It is rumored that this third company is Nissan and that its V platform will be featured. With the support of a large carmaker such as Nissan, it’s expected that the future city car will have a smooth development.

It’s also not certain yet if the name “Emas” will be used for the factory-produced model as well. The supermini is progressing slowly as Lotus is building five other sportscar models and Proton’s attention is devoted to its SUV and sedan models.

Read the entire article Proton Emas and Lotus City Car confirmed for production

Amid the threat of foreign competition, Malaysia is seeking a partner for national carmaker Proton. There are speculations that Proton could again try for a tie-up with Volkswagen AG or seek out General Motors Corp. or PSA/Peugeot-Citroen.

Malaysia also has had to reduce tariffs on auto and parts imports as part of a deal with Asian neighbors. 

Last Wednesday, the Malaysian government unveiled its National Automotive Policy, which sets a framework to deregulate the industry and end a system of import Approved Permits.

Read the entire article Vw, GM and PSA possible partners for Malaysian carmaker Proton

There appears to be more eco-friendly cars at the Geneva Motor Show than ever before. One of the most prominent is the Emas, a group of low environmental impact cars designed by Italdesign Giugiaro and Malaysian manufacturer Proton. This lineup of cars is intended to revolutionize traditional segmentation in the car market.

Giorgetto Giugiaro, Chairman of Italdesign Giugiaro, said that this family of models come in various configurations. What they all have in common though is that they offer the passenger room of a medium-category car while keeping the exterior dimensions of a compact mini.

Giugiaro explained that the architecture has a design that allows them to "outfit an infinite number of variants without compromising the car's great comfort and extensive interior space."

Read the entire article Geneva Motor Show: Proton Emas Concept by Italdesign

One of the most highly anticipated displays at the Geneva Motor Show is the Proton Concept. Lotus Engineering, the consultancy arm of Proton, will be supplying this concept with a complex hybrid powertrain.

Dr Robert Hentschel, Director of Lotus Engineering, described the hybrid drivetrain of the PROTON Concept to be "another example of Lotus Engineering" expertise in electrical and electronic systems and efficient performance engines."

He said that the Lotus Range Extender engine, which had its unveiling at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show last year, is "perfectly suited" for the advanced series hybrid that had been created for the PROTON Concept city car.

Read the entire article Geneva Preview: Proton Concept car to showcase Lotus’ advanced series hybrid drivetrain