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Proton is expected to have reduced its debts and started its recovery efforts with the RM1.5 billion soft loan approved by the government last month, The Sun reports.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said the soft loan was approved to further strengthen Proton’s position in the automotive industry, both in the country and internationally.

“The main objective of the RM1.5 billion soft loan was to enable Proton to make payments to all its vendors, which supply component parts. This will give Proton the opportunity to reduce its debts level and focus on efforts of company recovery and development,” he said in a parliamentary written reply to Dungun MP Wan Hassan Mohd Ramli, adding that the government took into consideration important aspects like employment, business ecosystem as well as research and development.

“We are also taking into consideration the interest of its some 60,000 workers and vendors. This is why we’ve decided to grant them the soft loan. We hope Proton will do better as it is important for 60,000 people working under the company,” the MITI minister said in April.

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When the loan was approved on April 8, Mustapa said that the government has set several conditions for Proton to meet, including the company having to “convince the government” of its new business model. Proton will also have to provide a strategic plan to expand its domestic and international markets, and a special task force led by Pemandu CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala will overlook Proton’s transformation plan.

Proton is confident that its fortunes can be reversed. “The announcement by the government will catalyse Proton’s turnaround plan, which includes the rolling out of three new models this year starting with the Perdana. With the infusion of new members of management, the company is confident to turn around,” new Proton CEO Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Kenali said after the loan announcement.

“Proton is also constantly engaging its strategic partners to explore collaborative opportunities to improve its products offerings and time to market. I believe the assistance by the government will reinforce the confidence of our partners in Proton,” Fuaad said. “We welcome the setting up of the task force and look forward to working closely with them to chart sustainable growth for Proton,” he added.

Proton is expected to roll out the new Perdana, new Persona and new Saga this year. A recent report by The Edge says that Renault and Groupe PSA (previously known as PSA Peugeot Citroen) are in talks with the national carmaker over a possible strategic partnership. Proton currently has a partnership with Suzuki and is expected to launch its version of the Ertiga MPV this year as well. Busy year ahead, that’s for sure.