There has been much speculation of late on the appointment of a new CEO of Proton by Geely, the Malaysian carmaker’s new foreign strategic partner (FSP).

In response, DRB-Hicom has just issued a statement saying that both the conglomerate and Geely are “currently still in the process of finalising the transaction that was agreed upon in June this year” and that “an announcement will be made as soon as possible in regards to the same.”

UPDATE: Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Kenali will be Malakoff Corp Berhad’s CEO effective October 1

What’s for sure is that Proton with Geely in the picture will have a new CEO. This is because the departure of Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Kenali as CEO of Proton Holdings Berhad (PHB) has been confirmed. Fuaad, who assumed the CEO role in April 2016, will leave the post on September 30. Prior to that, he was COO/senior group director at DRB-Hicom.

“He has done an impeccable job in his short tenure at PHB. Under his watch, Proton had rolled-out four new models in a span of eight short months. He also played a vital role in closing Proton’s search for a suitable FSP. The need for an FSP in Proton was one of the key priorities of DRB-Hicom at the point of our acquisition of PHB in 2012,” said Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar, DRB-Hicom’s group MD.

“During his leadership, Proton saw a consistent improvement in business operations. Both the Boards of DRB-Hicom and PHB express our utmost gratitude for his immense contribution both at DRB-Hicom and at Proton; ending with the highly successful outcome of having Geely as an FSP for Proton. Fuaad will be assuming a big role with a related company and the boards wish him the best for his future undertakings,” added Syed Faisal, who will continue with as chairman of PHB.

DRB-Hicom says that the completion of the corporate transaction is expected to materialise very soon. Currently, both parties are intensifying efforts to finalise the detailed business plan for Proton. The plan is vital towards producing a solid “roadmap” for Proton for the years ahead, and will incorporate strategies for both companies to develop new vehicles together for the global market, DRB-Hicom’s statement added.

DRB-Hicom and Geely hold 50.1% and 49.9% stakes in PHB, the holding company. Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Sdn Bhd (PONSB) and Proton Edar Sdn Bhd are 100% subsidiaries of PHB. For all three entities, DRB-Hicom has one additional seat at board level; matching the 50.1% stake that it holds. An announcement will be made in due course in relation to the composition of the board of these companies.

Part of the Definitive Agreement signed between DRB-Hicom and Geely is to ensure that the Chinese carmaker not only holds an investment in Proton, but also for it to lend expertise in the area of production, manufacturing, operations and marketing, namely in PONSB. Upon completion of the corporate transaction, Geely will be nominating a suitable candidate as CEO of PONSB.

“PONSB is the bulk of the operations of Proton Group, and thus it is critical that we have the right person for the job. An announcement shall be made in due course,” Syed Faisal said.

Datuk Radzaif Mohamed will continue in his role as deputy CEO. Similarly, Abdul Rashid Musa, who was named as head of Proton Edar in February this year, will continue in his role. “With Radzaif and Rashid remaining in their positions, this ensures continuity within the Proton Group. It will also ease the transition of the future CEO of PONSB and this can only be good for the venture,” added Syed Faisal.