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Following an earlier report that Proton is in discussions with several foreign partners who may be interested to purchase a stake in the national carmaker, international trade and industry minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said that a few leading automakers from Europe, China and Japan have expressed their interest to become Proton’s strategic partner.

He said the strategic partnership between Proton and a foreign counterpart was necessary to help the company, a small player at the international level, expand its business, Bernama reports.

Mustapa added that while the government is leaving it to the national carmaker to make the decision on which partner it will choose, there are several critical criteria it has to consider in making its decision. “The government wants Proton to ensure its strategic partner has the capability to lift the company once again. The strategic partner must also have the technology, capital and export network,” he explained.

Mustapa

Earlier in the week, it was reported that the carmaker was in talks with several foreign automakers. According to Malaysia Automotive Institute CEO Madani Sahari, several global original equipment manufacturers (OEM) have submitted their proposals, and Proton is currently reviewing them.

The national carmaker recently received a RM1.5 billion soft loan from the government, which came with several conditions that need to be met, including the need to identify a foreign partner. Additionally, a strategic plan to increase its share of the domestic market, as well as to penetrate into international markets, is also required.

A task force has been set up to oversee the company’s turnaround plans. Part of this includes the closing of its Shah Alam plant and consolidating all its production to Tanjung Malim. Both plants are currently running at about one-third of their 350,000-unit annual capacity.