Malaysian Government Has No Plans to Buy Back Proton From Geely, Says Prime Minister Tun Mahathir
Malaysia’s newly formed federal government has no intention of buying back Proton from China’s automotive giant, Zhejiang Geely Holdings Group.
“Proton does not belong to the government. Proton is owned by Syed Mokhtar (Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary)…Whether he wants to buy it back or not, it is up to him. The government has no intention to buy back Proton,” Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said during a recent press conference.
Proton, the brainchild of Tun Mahathir during his first stint as Malaysia’s Prime Minister, was first set up in 1983 and rolled out Malaysia’s first car—the Proton Saga—in 1985. But over the years, it has suffered considerable losses.
Earlier in the year, Tun Mahathir had said, “The national car project made so much profit that it was able to build Tanjung Malim (plant) with its own money without borrowing any money from the bank or seeking government assistance.”
“It was a profitable venture until the government started fiddling with it. They insisted on all kinds of things,” he added.
After his retirement in 2003, Tun Mahathir was appointed chairman of Proton, but quit two years later in the wake of his fallout with then Prime Minister Najib Razak.
In 2017, passenger vehicles total industry volume stood at 514,679 units, out of which Proton sales amounted to 70,991 units—a vast difference compared to its peak of nearly 80% of new passenger cars sold. Proton sold a 49.9% stake in the company to the Chinese conglomerate for a total of RM460.3 million in June last year. Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar holds an indirect 50.1% stake in DRB-Hicom Bhd via his private vehicle, Etika Strategi Sdn Bhd, in which he has a 90% equity interest.