Despite rumours that Lotus was for sale, the sale of Lotus parent Proton to DRB-Hicom appears to preclude any sale of Lotus for two years.
We reported recently that Lotus owners Proton had been advised to sell its loss-making Hethel car-maker Lotus as it geared up to be divested of State ownership in Malaysia. But it seems the sale of Proton in to private hands is to have the opposite effect.
The Malaysian government is to sell its shareholding in Proton to DRB-Hicom, a vast conglomerate with wide ranging interests but, importantly, a strong car sector presence. DRB-Hicom already builds cars for VW, Mercedes and Suzuki, and with the takeover of Proton it will acquire two Malaysian car plants with the capacity to build 350,000 cars a year.
As part of the purchase, DRB-Hicom has agreed that it will not trade Proton shares for two years from the completion of the sale, and nor will it dispose of any Proton assets or group companies for the same period of time. Which should be good news for Lotus. Probably.
Probably good news if DRB-Hicom are keen to go along with Dany Bahar’s ambitious plans to turn Lotus in to an East Anglian cross between Ferrari and Aston Martin. However, if DRB-Hicom are not interested in pursuing Dany Bahar’s ambitions, it could leave Lotus between a rock and a hard place until 2014.
We’ll have to wait and see.