A news report indicates that the Naza Group is apparently planning to give up its Kia and Peugeot distributorships given the soft automotive market that has been amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic. The report by the New Straits Times follows on months of speculation that such a move was on the cards, although no timeframe for a deal to be concluded was ever intimated.

Sources told the publication that Bermaz Auto, which currently handles the Mazda brand in the country, is the front runner to take over the South Korean and French brands, although it is facing competition from a slew of other interested parties, among them Sime Darby Motors and Berjaya Group, which previously held the local Mazda franchise under Berjaya Auto. In 2016, the entity became Bermaz Auto following a management buyout.

The report added that Bermaz is especially eyeing the Kia franchise, looking to take over the operations lock, stock and barrel, although any potential move would still need approval from the brand’s principal.

Adding to the hearsay, a source revealed that Naza has reportedly sold its Kia branches to its dealers, and a former top executive of a big local fund has been tasked with the project to dispose of the Kia franchise.

The source also noted that Bermaz Auto CEO Datuk Francis Lee had previously revealed that the company was planning to add a new car franchise into its portfolio, but did not name the brand. “Kia will (likely) come in to Bermaz first,” the source stated.

Besides Kia and Peugeot, which are handled by Naza Kia Malaysia and Nasim respectively, Naza Group handles Citroen and DS vehicles under Naza Euro Motors, and the company is also the local distributor for Maserati, Ferrari and Ducati. Earlier this year, the group was reportedly in negotiations with Suzuki to reintroduce the Japanese brand here, but news on developments have pretty much tapered off.