With Proton aiming to announce its foreign partner in April, interested parties are currently on location and ramping up the groundwork for a proposal. The Star reports a two horse race between the PSA Group of France and Geely, with the Chinese owner of Volvo currently leading the race. No mentions of Renault this time around.
According to the daily’s sources, both parties are actively undertaking due diligence work at Proton’s headquarters. “However, between the two, Geely appears to show more interest. Both are busy with their due diligence at the moment… you can see both Geely and PSA officials at Proton’s headquarters almost everyday,” the unnamed source said.
The report mentions that both PSA (Peugeot and Citroen) and Geely are looking to take a 51% majority stake in Proton’s manufacturing plant in Tanjung Malim. Apparently, this will not be a stumbling block as the government has given the green light for foreign parties to own a controlling stake in the factory.
The plant in south Perak is a prized asset for those looking to gain a foothold in the region. “The Tanjung Malim plant is one of the best assets in Proton. Any new technical partner of Proton would have immediate access to produce cars with Proton, and it could be used as their ASEAN manufacturing hub. Aside from the plant, Proton has been in the car market since the early 1980s. It understands the ASEAN taste,” said Malaysia Automotive Institute CEO Datuk Madani Sahari.
There’s some reshuffling going on in Proton as well, perhaps in anticipation of the entry of a foreign partner. One of the higher profile changes involve chief technical officer Abdul Rashid Musa, who has been moved to head Proton Edar, the company’s sales arm. He will replace Rohime Shafie, a former Honda Malaysia man who has been reassigned to another subsidiary within Proton. The new CTO is said to be from Lotus.