Proton in Talks to Sell Equity Stake

The potential foreign partner is expected to be an automaker with a global brand.

The sale is being undertaken, says an exclusive report in the Nikkei Asian Review, as part of its restructuring. Proton is losing money.

Successful talks would mean the re-entry of foreign capital along with technology know-how for the first time since January 2005, when Mitsubishi Corp severed ties with Proton, said the report.

“We want a partner with an equity share in Proton,” Madani Sahari, the secretary of a task force to revive Proton, told the Nikkei Asian Review in a recent interview.

Proton is now collaborating with Honda Motor, building the Perdana executive sedan using an old Accord platform, and with Suzuki Motor on an upcoming model.

The Nikkei report quoted Madani as saying that Honda and Suzuki had the potential to become Proton’s partner as long as they had advanced engineering technology and capital.

Proton, a unit of DRB Hicom, has been tasked with identifying a foreign partner within a year to assist in research and development in order to become a “competitive” automaker internationally in return for a soft loan of RM1.5 billion ringgit from the Government last month.

The money-losing carmaker also needs to submit a turnaround plan.

DRB Hicom logged a net loss of RM992 million for the fiscal year ended March 31, compared with the year-earlier RM300 million profit, said the Nikkei Asian Review report.

The company attributed the loss “largely to the poor performance of Proton,” with lower sales of motor vehicles.

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