Ah, the tangled tango continues to twirl. It seems that every automaker that submitted a bid to become Proton’s foreign strategic partner (FSP) is still very much in the picture, which means that Zhejiang Geely‘s reported exit from the scene may just be conjecture.
The automaker’s parent, DRB-Hicom, confirmed via a statement issued earlier this evening that all bidders are still in the running, and it was in the process of evaluating these bids. The corporation reiterated that the process is a complex one and that it intends to ensure that the chosen FSP will result in a win-win situation for all parties.
It added that because each party will be looking to secure the most beneficial deal that aligns with its own plans, the nature of negotiations means that it is a common occurrence that a lot of discussion and strong debate takes place, depending on what is put on the table. Undoubtedly, opinion as well.
On Tuesday, a report broke the news that Geely had pulled out of its bid for a partnership with Proton. Geely president An Conghui had reportedly said that the automaker had pulled out of negotiations with Proton, but did not elaborate on the reasons for the decision. Earlier, Geely chairman Li Shufu had indicated that the Chinese company was planning to withdraw its bid due to DRB-Hicom’s indecision regarding the partnership.
Based on this latest announcement by DRB-Hicom, it would seem that the status quo is restored, with Geely and Groupe PSA being the leading contenders to become Proton’s FSP. The duo are the only known automakers named as being involved in discussions with the national carmaker.
The French company has confirmed it submitted a bid for a partnership with Proton, announcing last month it was in talks with the Malaysian carmaker for a deal. The French automaker has been on a business expansion exercise of late, and a partnership with Proton will offer it access to the latter’s Tanjung Malim production facilities, which it can utilise as an export base for South East Asian operations.
Geely is also looking at the plant as a base to build right-hand drive versions of its Lynk & Co 01 SUV for export to various RHD markets such as the UK and Australia. It was also reported that Geely has plans to establish Proton as an entry-level brand within its overall structure, and that it was also intent in securing Lotus as part of the tie-up.
The announcement of which automaker will become Proton’s FSP is expected to be made by May, according to the latest news on the timeline. Until the fat lady sings, however, expect more speculation and conjecture to crop up. Because, really, you can expect no less.
-Photos & Article from PaulTan.