Chi­nese au­tomaker has proven track record, says min­is­ter

New Straits Times - - News / Story of the day - JUNE MOH KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my

THE ac­qui­si­tion of 49.9 per cent stake in the na­tional car­maker Proton by Chi­nese au­tomaker Zhe­jiang Geely Hold­ing Group should be viewed from a busi­ness an­gle and not any­thing else.

In re­sponse to a post­ing by Tun Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad, Sec­ond Fi­nance Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Jo­hari Ab­dul Ghani said Geely had a proven track record of res­cu­ing renowned Swedish au­tomaker Volvo.

He said Geely could do the same for Proton, es­pe­cially in max­imis­ing the ca­pac­ity of its man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Tan­jung Malim, as well push­ing Proton brands into the re­gional and global mar­kets.

“Al­though the 32-year-old na­tional car­maker has the ca­pac­ity to pro­duce 400,000 ve­hi­cles due to un­der­util­i­sa­tion, it is cur­rently be­ing utilised be­low 20 per cent.

“At its peak per­for­mance, Proton sold up to 180,000 units (per month).

“At present, its sales hover around 6,000 units monthly,” he said af­ter pre­sent­ing a hearse to Masjid Al Akram here.

“If we love Proton, we have to think about the well­be­ing of its 10,000 em­ploy­ees as well as an­other 50,000 ven­dors and sup­pli­ers. Proton’s em­ploy­ees, ven­dors and sup­pli­ers will lose their jobs if Proton is no longer com­pet­i­tive and has to be shut down,” he said.

He said Proton had made a loss of RM650 mil­lion in 2015 and RM1.5 bil­lion last year. If this per­sisted, he said, the govern­ment could not pro­vide fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to Proton as it used to.

“If we do not re­vise, re­struc­ture, and bring in the lat­est ex­per­tise and tech­nolo­gies to Proton, it will lose its com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage. We do not want Proton to meet the same fate as the de­funct steel­maker Per­waja Hold­ings Bhd.

“Per­waja was once a na­tional pride, but when it dis­con­tin­ued its busi­ness, its em­ploy­ees were re­trenched and man­u­fac­tur­ing plants were closed.

“Al­though Proton is dy­ing, its has yet to con­duct a re­trench­ment ex­er­cise.

“If we had not done this (the ac­qui­si­tion), it would have shared the same fate as Per­waja.

“This is why we al­lowed DRB-Hi­com to search for a strate­gic part­ner to re­ju­ve­nate Proton, so it is able to re­cover the ve­hi­cle’s pro­duc­tion vol­ume and in­crease its to­tal out­put.

“We aim to make Proton the top brand in Malaysia and ex­port its ve­hi­cles out­side the coun­try in­clud­ing Asean, China and other coun­tries in Asia,” he said.

The fi­nal agree­ment will be signed by both par­ties no later than July, and it will take six months to com­plete the ac­qui­si­tion process.

“In the long run, Proton’s sales will in­crease and its ve­hi­cles will be able to pen­e­trate Asia, in­clud­ing China, which could reach 500,000 units,” Jo­hari said.

On Thurs­day, Dr Ma­hathir lamented Geely’s ac­qui­si­tion of the 49.9 per cent stake in Proton.

Dr Ma­hathir, who is for­mer Proton chair­man, said the sale of Proton’s stake by DRB-Hi­com Bhd to the Chi­nese car­maker was prob­a­bly the be­gin­ning of an “in­ex­orable process”.

“Proton has been sold. It has been sold to for­eign­ers.

“They say Proton is my brain­child. Now the child of my brain has been sold.

“Yes. I am sad. I can cry. But the deed is done...

“We, Malaysians, are glad to be rid of this pesky car,” he said.

Datuk Seri Jo­hari Ab­dul Ghani

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