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Friday May 4, 2012

Proton bids farewell to Bursa after 9-year listing

By CHOONG EN HAN
han@thestar.com.my


PETALING JAYA: National carmaker Proton Holdings Bhd will bid farewell to the stock exchange today under its new owner DRB-Hicom Bhd, close to nine years after it was listed back in 2004.

Having succeeded in its bid to privatise Proton, DRB-Hicom would be delisting the national carmaker after securing more than 90% interest through its takeover offer.

As at April 26, DRB-Hicom held a 98.6% stake in Proton, and it has extended its offer to May 9 to compulsorily acquire the remaining shares in the company.

With the privatisation, DRB-Hicom is given free rein to do whatever is needed to re-energise the national carmaker without the need to seek approvals from shareholders on impending corporate exercises.

“Despite getting privatised, Proton is still an important national agenda that had contributed to the country's industrial achievements. All eyes will still be on DRB-Hicom's efforts to bring the national carmaker back to its former glory,” said an industry observer.

DRB-Hicom acquired a 42.74% stake in Proton from Khazanah Nasional Bhd at RM5.50 a share back in January and subsequently launched a takeover offer for the remaining shares, with the whole deal valuing Proton at RM3.02bil.

Since then, the conglomerate has made a slew of board changes in the group by appointing its group managing director Datuk Mohd Khamil Jamil as Proton chairman.

“The air is currently filled with speculations on what DRB-Hicom would do to Proton, and Lotus Group International Ltd Proton's loss-making performance carmaker seems to be on top of DRB-Hicom's priorities,” said the industry observer.

Nevertheless, he said Proton would certainly benefit from the synergies arising from DRB-Hicom's automotive manufacturing arm that expanded into operations for 10 international car marques.

Recently, Proton launched Preve, the new model touted to be the global car, and the company is targeting to export the model to prove that its manufacturing capabilities can match other global automotive players.

Proton was started in 1979 when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (then the deputy prime minister) mooted the idea of establishing an automotive assembling and manufacturing industry.

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