However the South China Morning Post reports Geely President An Conghui has confirmed the company is walking away from that plan.
Geely has just announced a record profit in 2016 of $US739-million and is set to launch its new SUV brand Lynk & Co (a co-development with Volvo) as it increases representation in South-East Asia – and its target of becoming a top-ten global automotive brand.
The Proton deal includes the Malaysian company’s Tanjung Malim assembly plant which has an annual production capacity of 1540,000 vehicles. Proton is seeking a strategic partner on the back of declining sales and financial performance – the Malaysian Government advanced the company $US384.9-million last year.
Geely’s departure leaves France’s Groupe PSA as the sole suitor for the Malaysian/British conglomerate.
And reports suggest PSA may be interested only in Proton in order to gain access to ASEAN markets and would offload Lotus to Geely.
A ‘curve-ball’ in this plan may be PSA’s recently-announced purchase of Germany’s Opel and Britain’s Vauxhall from General Motors for $1.38-billion – raising questions about the funding of the proposed Proton/Lotus purchase.
However a report in North America’s Automotive News three days ago flagged the possibility of Jaguar-Land Rover in-turn buying Vauxhall from PSA.
A lot still to happen in this space - stay tuned.