2016 Proton Perdana press con 4

At a press conference following the launch of the new Proton Perdana, Proton CEO Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Kenali revealed that Proton will be looking to formally identify a strategic partner for a deeper collaboration in the near future.

Currently, the national carmaker is involved with Japanese carmaker Suzuki, where it has plans to introduce a new collaborative model in October this year. The new Perdana is also the result of a partnership between Proton and Honda.

“In relation to a strategic partner, there are a few school of thoughts here. The one that we’ve been working with, Honda is considered a strategic partner as well with us. We’re also working with Suzuki as you know already, we’re working on a model to be launched perhaps October this year. That is through our collaboration with Suzuki,” said Fuaad.

However, Proton will be looking for a deeper collaboration with another strategic partner. “In terms of a deeper collaboration, we will be undertaking an exercise to formally identify a strategic partner under the supervision or purview of the task force. As mentioned by Datuk Seri Najib earlier, one of the key priorities for the task force is to identify a foreign strategic partner for Proton,” he continued.

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The Malaysian government recently approved Proton’s application for a soft loan of RM1.5 billion, where RM1.25 billion of said amount has already been awarded via the issue of redeemable convertible cumulative preference shares (RCCPS).

The loan does come with a few conditions, including the creation of a task force to oversee the national carmaker’s turnaround plan. The task force is led by Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala. Proton has already been awarded

As for the timeline Proton has placed on itself to identify a strategic partner, Fuaad said the company has given itself a year to do so, beginning from the date of the turnaround plan. He added that Proton will soon issue a request for OEMs to submit their proposals for a collaboration.

“We just want to find out if there’s any other strategic partner who is interested. Since the news about the formation of the task force, a few OEMs have come and met up with our authorities to express their interest in Proton.

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“So, we just want to make sure that the process is being done on a transparent basis. So, we are inviting all those potential OEMs who may have interest in Proton to participate in such and such, just to make sure we eliminate those who are not interested, and those who are really interested, we can pursue negotiation or discussion,” he continued.

When asked if such a move will involve equity, Fuaad said the company would not rule out anything because a strategic collaboration can come in any form. “In the lowest form, it will be the sharing of models, but in the higher form, it will be a strategic alliance, maybe with some equity stake. And at the highest level, they may want to have control,” he explained, adding that it depends what they (the OEMs) can bring to the table for Proton in the future.

Fuaad also stated that Proton’s parent company DRB-Hicom will be happy with whatever partnership that best fits the national carmaker, so long as it fits in three key tracks – strategic, operational and cultural. Which company do you think will be a valuable partner for Proton to get into a deeper strategic partnership with? Let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.