Najib defends sale of Proton stake

KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has reiterated that the previous Barisan Nasional-led government's decision to sell off a chunk of Proton Holdings Bhd's (Proton) to China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd (Geely) has proven to be a smart move.

In a Facebook post, it was highlighted that despite the incitement and criticism from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad following the deal in 2017 until he faced condemnation, Proton demonstrated resilience by achieving sales increases for five consecutive years.

The post asserted that Najib's decision was ultimately validated as correct during that period.

"From a company with declining car sales and financial problems even to pay suppliers, Proton has been successfully rescued and recorded an increase in sales every year for five years in a row.

Under the collaboration with Geely, Proton car exports have also been revived and are becoming more vigorous.

"In fact, Proton and Geely are investing US$10 billion (RM46 billion) to make Tanjung Malim, Perak the largest automotive city in the Asian region," he said.

In 2017, Geely, which also owns Volvo, signed an agreement to acquire a 49.9 per cent stake in Proton.

The deal will enable Proton to tap into Geely's vast range of platforms and powertrains.

It will also enable Proton to have access to existing Chinese carmaker markets, as well as right-hand drive markets in Southeast Asia.

It, however, drew criticism from Dr Mahathir, who said he could not be proud of its success as Proton was now something that did not belong to him or Malaysia.

Last year, Proton posted its best sales performance since 2012, achieving a fifth consecutive year of sales growth where they sold 12, 711 units in December alone.

They sold 154,611 units domestically and for export by the end of 2023, a 9.3 per cent increase over the 141,432 units sold in 2022.

Consequently, Proton finished the year ranked second in overall sales, marking the fifth consecutive year it held this position.

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