Proton, which is in its final phase of deliberation over its choice of a foreign strategic partner (FSP), might follow Perodua’s path by allowing its FSP to have a 51% equity stake in the company.

According to a Bernama report, this was said by second international trade and industry minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan in response to a question in Parliament about Proton’s selection of a FSP and whether selling off a 51% stake would affect the future of the national carmaker.

“Proton could follow in the direction of Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua (Perodua), but (it) may not be necessarily so,” he said, adding that Perodua has Daihatsu as a strategic partner, with the latter having an equity stake of 51% in the business. “Daihatsu needed to acquire 51% equity as Perodua required high technology investments,” he said.

He urged all to be patient, because the evaluation process is still going on before the decision on a FSP is announced within the first half of this year. Ong said at this stage, matters relating to equity were still being discussed.

Last month, Ong quashed rumours that Proton was set to sell its majority state to a foreign partner, stating that a final decision has not been made. “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.”

Former Proton chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is against the move to shift the carmaker towards foreign ownership. Last month, he said that there would be major implications for the company, its suppliers and vendors if this was to happen.

China’s Zhejiang Geely and France’s Groupe PSA are the potential candidates to become Proton’s FSP. The French company has submitted a bid for a partnership with Proton, announcing last month it was in talks with the Malaysian carmaker for a deal. As for Geely’s bid, a report early this month said that the Chinese automaker may pull out of negotiations.