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Thursday March 15, 2012

DRB-Hicom all set to make changes in management of Proton

PETALING JAYA: DRB-Hicom Bhd is set to take charge of Proton Holdings Bhd, with changes made to its management and to rationalise its manufacturing facilities.

DRB-Hicom group managing director Datuk Seri Mohd Khamil Jamil said the acquisition had given the group a legal platform to engage with the management of Proton and look into its books.

DRB-Hicom’s shareholders approved of the company’s acquisition of 42.74% stake in Proton from Khazanah Nasional Bhd, and the deal is expected to be completed within seven days.

Upon completion of the deal, a mandatory general offer for all the remaining Proton shares not owned by the group would be triggered, hence a circular would be issued to all shareholders of Proton to buy the shares at RM5.50 each – the same price which DRB-Hicom bought from Khazanah.

On Jan 17, the group had acquired an additional 39.27 million shares or 7.27% of Proton allowing it to hold 50.01% stake in the carmaker.

Khamil also said that many original equipment manufacturers had expressed interest in the national carmaker. However, under the constraints of the takeover code, he was unable to discuss with them further.

Currently, DRB-Hicom has collaborations with key foreign strategic partners including prominent industry players like Volkswagen, Honda, Audi, and Suzuki.

Khamil said the group would be doing a thorough review of the operations of Proton and Lotus.

“It is still quite premature to say whether I’m happy or unhappy. Of course I’m concerned about Lotus, but I need to have a look into Lotus to see whether the speculation and reports are true,” he said.

He said the DRB-Hicom was open to the options including beefing up Lotus and to get it to perform better.

Meanwhile, head of investor relations Mohd Khalid Yusof said there were plans to rationalise Proton’s Tanjung Malim and Shah Alam plants.

He said the capacity of the Tanjung Malim plant could easily expand to 250,000 vehicles, and create more synergies and opportunities for DRB-Hicom and Proton.

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