Second international trade and industry minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan has quashed rumours that Proton Holdings will sell 51% of its shares to a foreign partner, stating that a final decision has not been made.

In a report by Bernama, he said: “The government is not relinquishing the country’s proprietary rights. We are looking at the opportunities to help Proton grow more efficiently, so that it will be on par with other big brands in the global car industry.”

He added that a foreign strategic partner would help boost the national carmaker’s capabilities in order to remain competitive.. “Proton is free to choose a foreign strategic partner (FSP) which can offer the highest potential, either from the United States, Japan, China or Europe,” he noted.

Reports have placed China’s Geely and France’s Groupe PSA as leading parties to become Proton’s partner. DRB-Hicom, custodians of Proton, is now waiting for the submission of bids from the parties, after which an earnest evaluation of the bids will commence. Previously, DRB-Hicom also echoed Ong’s sentiment by stating it will continue to hold a significant stake in Proton even after the FSP’s entry.

Proton will make a formal announcement on its partnership decision by the end of 1H2017, which will also include the merger of the company’s plants in Tanjung Malim, Perak, and Shah Alam, Selangor.

“The government will not make the announcement on Proton’s behalf, and I ask everyone to be patient. We hope that after this Proton will be able to develop a motor vehicle hub which can boost Malaysia’s capability to make high-quality national cars which can penetrate the international market, especially in Asean countries,” Ong said.