Published: Sun, June 25, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Joan Schultz

China carmaker Geely buys 49.9% of Proton, 51% of Lotus

China carmaker Geely buys 49.9% of Proton, 51% of Lotus

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 auto brand Lotus.

The deal was valued at 460.3 million ringgit (108 million US dollars), including a cash injection of 170.3 million ringgit into Proton by Geely, and a sports utility vehicle platform that is worth 290 million ringgit, DRB-Hicom Managing Director Syed Faisal Albar told a press conference following the signing ceremony.

Geely took up a 49.9 per cent stake in Proton for RM460.3 million (S$150 million).

Najib (middle, back row) witnessing the MOU between DRB-Hicom represented by Syed Faisal and Zheijiang Geely Holding Group represented by president Ah Chonghui yesterday.

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Furthermore, it is expected that the experts of the British manufacturer of sports cars Lotus going into the configuration of the chassis of future models of Volvo.

"Whatever spending [we will make] will depend on what Proton will be, in terms of its long-term product planning [such as which market segments the company will enter]".

DRB-Hicom's Managing Director, Datuk Seri Syed Faisal, said Geely, which also owned Sweden's Volvo Cars, London Taxi Company, LYNK & CO and the Geely Auto portfolio of vehicle brands, was the right partner for Proton.

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. Geely has promised DRB-Hicom that it will retain the Proton brand name.

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"Geely will turnaround both companies in respect of profitability and pave the way for sustainable growth, while embracing new technological trends of electrification, light weighting and artificial intelligence".

"Geely has owned Volvo since 2010, a takeover that raised some eyebrows at the time".

"For over the last ten years, Geely has quietly but successfully emerged as a major player in the automotive market".

Najib said Proton had been in trouble, and the government was called upon to help the struggling firm with a soft loan, extended in 2016.

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Geely will also be producing right-hand drive Volvos at Proton's giant, and under-utilised, Tanjung Malim plant in southern Perak. "He would still prefer Proton to be 100 per cent Malaysian-owned and lose hundreds of millions of ringgit a year", Datuk Seri Najib said, without explicitly naming anyone.

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