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Malaysia’s Proton sees profitability improving on new Persona sedan – UPDATE

Malaysia’s Proton sees profitability improving on new Persona sedan – UPDATE

KUALA LUMPUR (Thomson Financial) – Malaysia’s national car maker Proton Holdings Bhd expects its profitability in the next three quarters to improve, supported by better sales of its newly-launched Persona model and the introduction of another new model in January, its managing director Syed Zainal Abidin said Thursday.

‘We believe our market share will (also) improve from where we are today,’ Syed Zainal told reporters after the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting.

Proton, once a dominant player in the local car market, gave up top place to second national car maker Perodua since 2006.

For the first half of this year, Proton ranked second with a 21.3 percent share against 24.0 percent in 2006 while Perodua, which makes compact cars, ranked number one with a 34.2 percent share.

Last month, Proton said its net loss in the first quarter to June narrowed to 46.75 million ringgit from a loss of 58.65 million the preceding year.

‘We are positive about the company’s financial performance going forward,’ he said. ‘There will be improvement in our profitability.’

Proton chairman Mohammed Azlan Hashim meanwhile said discussions on a planned strategic alliance with foreign partners were ongoing, but declined to say if any firm deal can be expected in December.

He said the structure of the alliance must be such that it is mutually beneficial and tailor-made.

‘We are not in a position to comment. Let’s wait for the final decision (from the government),’ he said.

Government investment company Khazanah Nasional Bhd owns 43 percent of Proton and has been active in negotiations over the past few months about forming an alliance between Volkswagen and Proton to arrest Proton’s declining sales.

There is speculation that Volkswagen is negotiating to take a controlling stake in Proton’s manufacturing division.

Last month, Proton launched its new Persona model and said it expects to sell between 30,000 and 40,000 units over the next 12 months.
The Persona, which replaces the 14-year-old Wira model, is priced between
44,999 ringgit and 55,800 ringgit.

(1 US dollar = 3.50 ringgit)

aipeng.soo@thomson.com

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