Proton has named the successor to Tengku Mahaleel. With the title of Managing Director, Syed Zainal Abidin Tahir, 43 years old this year, will take over the helm of Proton and steer it into the AFTA era. Syed Zainal is currently executive director of Perodua’s manufacturing arm.

Other management changes would be Datuk Kisai Rahmat being appointed executive director of Proton’s engineering and manufacturing division. Two other key management positions – head of sales and marketing, and head of strategy and corporate services have yet to be filled.

Proton also posted a Q2 2006 loss of RM 154.3 million, much lower than the 700 million previously speculated but still pretty bad. Proton ‘rescued’ MV Agusta a year ago by pumping 310 million ringgit into the struggling firm. Proton is now writing off the value of it’s 57.5 percent stake in MV Agusta. Other reasons for this loss include rising component prices, and reductions in margins. Provisions were also made for 3,000 engines in its inventory whose warranty had lapsed, and RM 36 million for a mismatch of warranties between international customers and domestic component suppliers.

On why Proton bought MV Agusta, Datuk Azlan explained at the time of purchase in December 2004, Proton saw MV Agusta as an opportunity to gain access to a global brand and engineering and design expertise. So far the investment had not met expectations. According to Azlan, Lotus is still loss-making, but it’s businesses in Australia, Singapore and the UK were either showing signs of improvement or performing reasonably well.

As for other Proton updates, things are looking pretty bleak for the Proton-VW partnership. Proton chairman Datuk Azlan raised the prospect yesterday that there might be no go for the deal after all, but they are still waiting for VW’s response on their latest proposal.

Source: StarBiz, Reuters