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NEWS UPDATES 4 July 2009

Malaysia PM: National car needs revamp, foreign partner

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Malaysian government is still open to the idea of a strategic foreign partner for Proton Holdings Bhd but it has to be on the right terms and conditions, state news agency Bernama quoted Prime Minister Najib Razak as saying Thursday.

"I don't think Proton can manage without one (foreign partner) but it has to be the right one. The terms and conditions must be fair to us as well," he said.

"So, moving forward, a restructuring of the national carmaker is necessary in terms of having a strong and appropriate foreign partner," Najib said in a 30-minute interview with Adam Bakhtiar of CNBC.

He said even the vendor system has allowed proliferation of too many companies and they are not competitive or of higher quality.

Asked if the National Automotive Policy and Bumiputera equity participation in the vendor system will be liberalised further, Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, said: "We certainly want to upgrade the quality."

The companies should go for consolidation to strengthen their performance, he said. Najib said that auto tariffs would also need to be reviewed from time to time.

"But we have to look into Proton's position as well. A stronger Proton certainly will be able to compete within Asean even if the tariffs are reduced," he said.


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