Proton to get local partner?

MYT 7:17:16 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has not ruled out the possibility of local partners for Proton, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said. 

“We’ll have to decide later,” he said on Monday. 

Najib, who was at the launch of the Scomi’s new monorail, said the Government wanted to talk to the Proton management about the matter. 

On the national carmaker’s turnaround plan, he said the board had yet to formally present it to him. 

“They do have a plan,” he said. 

Earlier, after a ceremony for the delivery of three Dauphin AS 365N3 helicopters by Eurocopter to the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) in Petaling Jaya, he said market investors obviously expected an announcement of a strategic foreign partner for Proton, and when that did not happen, they reacted negatively. 

"We hope the market will give Proton a chance to show its turnaround performance,” Najib said. 

The carmaker’s shares nose-dived by 92 sen or 18.6%, a seven-year low, the day after it was announced that Proton had shelved talks for a possible tie-up with Volkswagen AG last week, as investors who were holding the stock largely on the promise of a tie-up decided to unload. 

Proton shares, the second top loser for yesterday, fell by another 22 sen to close at RM3.82 Monday. 

On whether the decision to discontinue the talks with Volkswagen was taken after recommendation by Proton, Najib said the Government worked closely with the Proton management and Khazanah on the matter, adding “the board reports to Khazanah and Khazanah reports to the Government.” 

“The Government is also mindful of the fact that Proton is the national car company and it has to balance between business interests and the desire of the people to see the national car remaining in our hands,” he said. 

On the Government’s desire for Proton, he said it was for the company to be able to get its reasonable share of the regional market and slightly beyond that, as it could not survive solely on the domestic market.

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