Billionaire Li Shufu said he’s planning to pull Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co out of a bid for Proton Holdings Bhd, saying the Malaysian carmaker keeps changing its plans, said Bloomberg.
But it may just be his way of pulling his weight in the negotiations, which are still ongoing with rival PSA owner of Peugeot – still in the battle for the 51% shares of the ailing Malaysian company.
“They keep changing, today it’s this, tomorrow it’s that,” Li said in an interview in Beijing Friday, before attending the opening of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
“They haven’t decided what they want.”
Proton, which needs to bring in a foreign partner to help in research and development as part of conditions it agreed to in order to receive a loan last year.
The Malaysian government is in a hurry to get a suitor for Proton, which is losing money, while an imminent closure of the facilities – meaning the death of the national car icon – would become a political nightmare for Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Proton is controlled by Malaysian tycoon Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary’s DRB-Hicom Bhd, who is said to be close to former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Mahathir set up Proton in 1983 to steer Malaysia’s industrialization plan.
Proton also owns British sports car maker Lotus Cars Ltd, of which it did not succeed to reap any profit so far.