: Chinese carmaker, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, has signed a final contract with DRB-Hicom Bhd, acquiring 49.9 per cent of the latter and 51 per cent stake in luxury sports car brand Lotus.
In a statement here, the company said, the acquisition was expected to be completed in three months, after which Geely would form a core management team recruited from a pool of global candidates to ensure the smooth operation of Proton.
Moving forward, the Chinese carmaker will make every effort to enhance the market competitiveness of Proton and Lotus and to foster the revival of the two brands, it added.
Proton, established in 1983, is a wholly-owned unit of DRB, Malaysia's largest car manufacturer, and the only full-fledged OEM car manufacturer in South-East Asia. It has operations in the UK, West Asia and across South-East Asia and Australia.
The Lotus car, with its British heritage and unrivaled engineering expertise, has been a world renowned brand, recognised for its innovation and performance.
Geely Holding's Chairman, Li Shufu, said the company's partnership with DRB-Hicom would enable Proton to become the industry leader in Malaysia and a top three brand in South-East Asia.
"We will also continue to expand Lotus' product portfolio and increase production to further enhance its brand.
"Furthermore, the deep regional knowledge we gain from Proton and Lotus through this transformative partnership, coupled with our technological expertise and leadership in innovation, opens the door for Geely to become a major player in the ASEAN market and will help us reach our sales target of three million units by 2020," said Li.
DRB-Hicom's Managing Director, Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar Syed Ali Rethza Albar, said Geely, which also owned Sweden's Volvo Cars, London Taxi Company, LYNK & CO and the Geely Auto portfolio of car brands, was the right partner for Proton.
"Their success with Volvo and London Taxi Company, and of course with their own Geely Auto brands demonstrates their capabilities both as a bonafide carmaker and as a partner.
"With Geely making Proton its right hand-drive hub for the Asean region, Proton can now target the immense Asean passenger car market for both our existing models and Geely's models.
"Proton's status as Malaysia's national car is secure, and DRB-Hicom remains a majority shareholder," said Syed Faisal.
He said Proton would now focus its efforts with Geely on gaining domestic market share.
"Taking advantage of the joint capabilities of both companies, I am positive that we will be able to impact the market positively, by coming out with products that satisfy market preferences in terms of design and quality," he said.
The signing ceremony held today, was also witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang, Minister of Finance II Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani, Second Minister of International Trade Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, Prime Minister's Special Envoy to China Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting and Geely's President An Conghui.