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Geely inches closer to acquiring stake in Malaysia's Proton and Lotus

By Li Fusheng | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-06-23 13:58

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group has signed a final contract with DRB-Hicom Berhad, acquiring 49.9 percent shares of the Malaysian company's Proton and 51 percent shares of its sports car brand Lotus, following a binding contract the two inked in late May.

The acquisition is expected to be completed in three months, after which Geely will form a core management team to ensure the smooth operation of Proton. According to the deal, Geely will be the only foreign shareholder.

Established in 1983, Proton is Malaysia's largest automobile manufacturer and, according to Geely, the only full-fledged OEM car manufacturer in Southeast Asia.

Proton sold around 72,000 cars in 2016, a 54 percent slump from its record high of 158,700 vehicles in 2011.

Proton has operations in the UK, the Middle East, and across Southeast Asia and Australia. The Lotus car has been a world renowned brand, recognized for its innovation and performance.

Geely said in a news release that it will make every effort to enhance the market competitiveness of Proton and Lotus and to foster the revival of the two brands.

Geely Chairman Li Shufu said: "Our partnership with DRB-Hicom will enable Proton to become the industry leader in Malaysia and a top three brand in Southeast Asia. We will also continue to expand Lotus' product portfolio and increase production to further enhance its brand."

He said regional knowledge Geely gains through this transformative partnership will open 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.

Managing Director of DRB-Hicom, Dato' Sri Syed Faisal said Geely is 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 their 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."

In addition to Geely, several others companies expressed interest, include French carmaker Peugeot maker PSA and Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp.

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