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Free Website Counters SPY the Man: 28-03-2007: Najib: Proton may miss March deadline

Thursday, March 29, 2007

28-03-2007: Najib: Proton may miss March deadline

The government may miss its own end-March deadline to strike a deal with a foreign carmaker for a partnership in Proton Holdings Bhd, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“I cannot say for sure if a partnership can be announced by month’s end,” he told reporters at the Global Islamic Finance Forum 2007 in Kuala Lumpur on March 28.

Asked if this meant that the government would miss the March deadline it had announced earlier, Najib said: “Might miss it. Doesn’t matter.”

However, he did not say if talks with the respective bidders had stalled or if the negotiations would continue notwithstanding the self-imposed deadline.

The government is in talks with Volkswagen AG and General Motors Corporation towards striking a strategic partnership, including possible equity participation in Proton.

It is also in negotiations with local players such as DRB-Hicom Bhd and Naza group of companies on how they could play a role in reversing the fortunes of the loss-making national carmaker.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg, quoting an adviser to the government, Graeme Maxton, reported that Proton’s search for a partner to return it to profitability would not end any time soon because of strategic disagreements between the company and the government.

“It’s going to be a long time until we actually see this coming to an end,” said Maxton, Asia managing director at consulting firm Autopolis.

There is “a lot of conflict” between the government and Proton over the company’s future, he said.

On another question that DRB-Hicom was said to be confident of being appointed as Proton’s local partner, Najib said it was up to the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) to look into the bid.

“I don’t know. We have not made any decisions yet. Treasury and Miti are supposed to do the evaluation and supposed to present it (to the Cabinet Committee which Najib chairs).

When reminded that there were only three days left to the end of the month, he said: “There will be time. Don’t worry.”

On a separate matter, Najib said the next round of talks with the United States on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would be held very soon.

“We discussed the FTA today (yesterday) and made some decisions relating to the FTA. It is now up to the respective ministries to take up our position with the Americans. Talks continue.

“We are not bound by any deadline nor will we give up some of the fundamental positions that we consider very important to Malaysia. There will be no time frame,” he said.

On the status of the proposed bullet train project to Singapore, Najib said it was still being studied.

“I have been given to understand that this is a private sector initiative. So it is up to them to study its viability, and for the government to consider it. I do not know to what extent they will need the government’s assistance,” he said.

When asked what support the government would extend to the project initiators, Najib said: “At the outset, the project must be viable and bankable, and can be financed by private companies.”

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What is the main factor for you to buy a Proton Car?
Low price and no other choice due to budget
Good resale value
Low maintenance cost
Ride & Handling is good
Reliable parts, chasis and engine
Good Styling exterior & Interior
Patriotism (I support Made in Malaysia Products)
Follow others (Follow Majorities should be the best choice)