"With Zhejiang Geely Holding Group on board, Proton can now eye the huge Southeast Asian passenger vehicle market with renewed confidence", he said at the signing ceremony of the deal, which was attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group chairman Li Shufu.
The Chinese owner of Sweden's Volvo Cars says it has signed the final contract to buy a stake in Malaysian automaker Proton, gaining a platform to expand in Southeast Asia. "After Geely bought Volvo, we provided more than €3 billion (RM14.4 billion); we also provided [the London Taxi Company] with more than £300 million (RM1.6 billion) to develop pure electric London Taxis and build a brand new, modern plant".
Proton Holdings Berhad was founded in 1983 by the Malaysian government to create a domestic auto brand and has a distribution network in key Southeast Asian markets.
"But that is the people's money and it would have been irresponsible for us to continue with a business model that was never going to succeed", he said in his speech at the signing ceremony between DRB-Hicom and Geely Holding.
"The key is to make Proton and Lotus sustainable brands moving forward, if both DRB-HICOM and Geely can capture the window of opportunities presented, and we believe, it will translate to economic benefits in the future".
"The revival of Proton and Lotus will not be an easy task in a market with fierce competition".
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"Geely has owned Volvo since 2010, a takeover that raised some eyebrows at the time".
"Proton will also be the manufacturing hub for Geely's right-hand drive models in the region, and local vendors would stand a chance to be on Geely's global shared purchasing system if they meet the standards", he said. The government has long resisted efforts to sell off any key stake in Proton, seen as a national icon.
"This new chapter in Proton's journey is an example of the forward-looking Malaysia we are building", he added.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said Proton has been "hobbled by an out-of-date, inward looking and commercially unworkable idea of what constitutes success for a national carmaker".
Najib said Geely had, over the last ten years, quietly but successfully emerged as a major player in the automotive market.
Najib said the government extended the loan to Proton because, had the carmaker shut down, 10,000 employees would have become jobless, and the eco-system surrounding Proton, which accounts for some 200,000 jobs, would have suffered.
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