The marketplace is buzzing with news of a three-way tussle for a stake in Proton that’s currently owned by Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

The three parties are said to be DRB-Hicom, which is controlled by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar AlBukhary, parties linked to the Naza Group and a management buyout lead by Proton Chairman Datuk Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh. All three parties have been previously linked with the national carmaker.

Currently, Khazanah has a 42.7% stake in Proton, and should a party succeed in buying over the Government’s stake, it will trigger a general offer. Business Times quotes a source involved in the bidding process as saying that the bids were in the range of between RM6 and RM7 per share. The same source added that “whoever is buying Proton is getting the company on the cheap” based on Proton’s March 2011 book value per share of RM9.84.

This development is drawing in the speculators, and Proton’s share price went up by another 89 sen yesterday to close at RM4.50, with over 20 million shares changing hands. DRB-Hicom, thought to be the front runner in the bid, also saw its shares rise. The counter gained 20 sen to end the day at RM2.20, the highest point since August. DRB-Hicom is of course the company that is assembling Volkswagen cars at its Pekan plant.

Proton’s share price might still rise, since OSK Holdings Bhd and RHB Capital Bhd have upgraded the stock to a “buy” with a fair value of RM5 per share. It will be interesting to know more about the plans each of the bidders have for Proton. Nothing is out at the moment, but we will keep tabs on this.