This is what the founder of Proton Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad meant when he put Khazanah to task - that Azman and Team will not be able to save Proton and put the company back to the level it once reigned.
The former premier appeared to back a management buyout of Proton Holdings, saying the national car maker needs proper attention and 'somebody more focused' to help it recapture its share of the domestic passenger vehicle market.
He pointed out that at present, national investment arm Khazanah Nasional, which owns 42.7 per cent of Proton, could not afford to focus fully on turning around Proton's flagging finances.“Khazanah has a lot of other investments... it cannot give focus to Proton. I think we need somebody to be focussed on Proton. Proton needs proper attention and also, Proton needs money.
“If you want to do anything in this industry, it is not about RM1,000 or RM2,000... It is RM100 million, RM200 million... it is a very expensive business and whomever comes in should have the capacity to support it financially,” Dr M, who is also Proton adviser, said.
Khazanah is said to have put its entire 42.7 per cent stake in the national carmaker up for grabs, and confirmed it has received several proposals of interest. As at today, three firms have indicated an interest.
Proton chairman Nadzmi Mohd Salleh has also openly indicated his interest in purchasing Khazanah’s controlling stake in the national car maker, suggesting during a recent interview that Proton needs to sell part of its stake in Lotus, slash costs and increase exports to recoup some of its losses in the industry.
He is believed to be up against business tycoon Syed Mokhtar Albukhary for the bid.
Dr Mahathir also said the on-going discussion between Proton Holdings Bhd and US based-General Motors Corp (GM) on the former's Tanjung Malim manufacturing facility plant is expected to resolve in a 'win-win' situation, hence brings about some benefits to Proton.Media reports said Proton is in talks to sell up to 50 per cent of its stake in its Tanjung Malim plant to GM for between RM700 million and RM800 million.
"I have not heard of any party taking over the plant, but about using the power plant, yes. What they want is to do part of their production in Malaysia," he told reporters after a gathering between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Selangor industrialists in Shah Alam today, hosted by Proton.
"We are sending our people to discuss with them next week and with a firm commitment from both sides, we will see it from there," Dr Mahathir said.
GM, a global automotive company develops, produces and markets cars, trucks and parts worldwide. It also provides automotive financing services.
GM is the home of Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. If GM kicks off its production in Proton's Tanjung Malim plant, the move would support the global company to reduce their cost as well as benefit Proton, particularly in full utilisation of the plant and technology transfer.