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During a press conference following the launch of the new Proton Saga, DRB-Hicom CEO Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar revealed that the company has shortlisted five proposals from foreign bidders looking to own a stake in the national carmaker.

However, he stated that DRB-Hicom will continue to keep a significant stake in Proton. “I think this is something that is still up in the air. If you ask me whether or not we’re going to sell 80%, 70% (of Proton), definitely not. I think its highly premature at this juncture to look at that, because we have not crossed the line yet,” he said.

Among the conditions set for Proton to be awarded a RM1.5 billion soft loan was for the national carmaker to identify a strategic foreign partner. According to the DRB-Hicom CEO, the narrowed down proposals managed to meet three core requirements – strategic, cooperation and cultural.

“Whether or not this potential partner is from Europe, Japan or China, wherever they are, most of them who had actually express interest, they are big in size. They have a wide reach and therefore they have their own method of doing things,” he said.

When asked for a timeline, he said: “We hope by at least the middle of next year, this process can be concluded for us to identify a strategic partner.” However, Syed Faisal stated the company is looking to accelerate efforts, and will try to close a deal by the first quarter of next year.