Malaysian business conglomerate DRB-Hicom is still evaluating all bids for a foreign strategic partner (FSP) to turn around its ailing automotive company Proton Holdings Bhd, a search that may end by first half of this year.
“Our intent is to turn around the fortunes of PROTON. There are strengths and capabilities of the car maker that, given a new proven partner that can offer technology, capabilities and new markets, will push PROTON as a brand to be reckoned with. This is why our evaluation of the bidders needs to be a detailed one,” Group Managing Director Dato’ Sri Syed Faisal Albar said in a statement on Tuesday.
He added that the car maker and the incoming FSP must be able to create synergies that will ensure the success of this venture.The stake, DRB-Hicom is looking to forego for its wholly owned Proton is still unknown.
DRB-Hicom’s statement has come as an assurance for the market participants where talks were rife of the selection process coming to an end and also that DRB-Hicom is only left with one bidder, French Groupe PSA which is also facing some difficulty.
“There have been news reports stating that we are left with only one bidder. I can confirm that all parties that submitted bids for PROTON are still in the running and DRB-HICOM is still evaluating these bids. We are going through the tail-end of this meticulous process, and we are looking forward to completing this search by the end of the first half of this year,” Faisal added.
According to media reports, among the bidders for the national car maker are China’s Geely Automobile Holdings and European car maker Groupe PSA that owns Citroen, Peugeot, and DS brands.
Meanwhile, there were anticipations of an announcement after the meeting of French President Francois Hollande with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak this week after Hollande’s visit to Malaysia , the first to Asean.
However, there were no announcements on the bidding but Najib said at a joint press briefing later that PSA was in serious talks with Proton on a possible partnership. Further, there has also been reports of Geely bidding for a strategic partnership with Proton.
DRB-Hicom reported a core net loss of MYR339 million in the nine months ended Dec 31, 2016 largely due to losses in the auto division. It is understood that a FSP will enable Proton to have access new technologies and help it expand footprint beyond Malaysia.