FRIGHTENED BY GROWING MALAY BACKLASH, NAJIB FLIP-FLOPS WITH CHINA’S GEELY ON PROTON TIE-UP

KUALA LUMPUR – Proton’s quest for a strategic partner might be hitting a road bump?

Billionaire Li Shufu has been reported as saying he’s planning to pull Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. out of a bid for Proton Holdings Bhd.

Bloomberg reported Li as saying DRB-Hicom, the parent of Proton, keeps changing its plans.

“They keep changing, today it’s this, tomorrow’s it’s that,” Li said in an interview in Beijing Friday, before attending the opening of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

“They haven’t decided what they want.”

 

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Hangzhou, China-based Geely Group and France’s PSA Group have submitted bids to buy a stake in money-losing Proton, which needs to bring in a foreign partner to help in research and development as part of conditions it agreed to in order to receive a loan last year.

Bloomberg reported that Proton CEO Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Kenali and a company spokeswoman both declined to comment on Li’s comments.

Last week, PSA CEO Carlos Tavares said last week that a decision on the Proton bid is expected in spring.

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Proton owns British sports car maker Lotus Cars Ltd.

In the second half of 2016, Proton had launched four new models in quick succession as it strived to regain market share.

The Proton Ertiga compact MPV was the fourth and final product from Proton in 2016 to be rolled out after the new Perdana, Persona and Saga.

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