Conglomerate DRB-HICOM has reached an agreement to sell 49.9% equity in PROTON Holdings to China-based Zhejiang Geely Holding.The contract will also see Geely buying the entire stake in British sports car maker, Lotus from PROTON.
DRB-HICOM group managing director, Dato’ Sri Syed Faisal Albar says the PROTON brand will remain present and is expected grow significantly with the new foreign strategic partner on board. DRB-Hicom currently owns 100% of the manufacturer of the first national car. DRB-HICOM is one of Malaysia’s leading conglomerates with core businesses in the Automotive, Services & Education, as well as Property sectors. It has more than 90 active companies in its stable and over 59,000 employees group-wide.
“Our intention was always to ensure the revitalisation of the PROTON nameplate. It was Malaysia’s first national car brand and has more than 30 years of history. This deal will be the catalyst to elevate a brand that Malaysians resonate with,” said Faisal Albar.
DRB-Hicom said in statement to A+M on Wednesday that the deal will enable PROTON to tap into Geely’s vast range of platforms and powertrains, and to have access to existing markets of the Chinese carmaker, as well as right-hand drive markets in south-east Asia.
Geely Holding’s group executive vice president and CFO Daniel Donghui Li added that with PROTON and Lotus joining the Geely Group portfolio of brands, it is strengthening its global foot print to develop a beachhead in Southeast Asia.
“Geely is full of confidence for the future of PROTON, we will fully respect the brands history and culture to restore PROTON to its former glory with the support of Geely’s innovative technology and management resources. We also aim to unleash the full potential of Lotus Cars and bring it into a new phase of development, thanks to our experience accumulated through Volvo Car’s revitalisation,” he added.
Geely, which also owns Volvo Car Corporation and The London Taxi Company, is one of the leading passenger vehicle carmakers in China. It already has facilities across the globe, including 16 manufacturing plants, seven design studios and five research and development centres. The deal with PROTON will offer Geely access into the key ASEAN market, and also R&D and manufacturing presence in the region.