Lotus has responded fiercely to the intense speculation surrounding the future of the brand and its UK-based operations.
The January sale of parent company Proton and rumours that new owner DRB-Hicom is reportedly concerned about Group Lotus’ reported AU$307million debt has raised questions over Lotus’ future.
The suggestion it is headed for administration or the auction block has been highlighted this week by the reported withdrawal of sponsorship from its namesake Formula 1 team, Lotus F1.
Lotus however has issued an official press release which sternly (and forthrightly) denies many of these rumours, while admitting that all is not rosey within the organisation.
The release first confirms that Dany Bahar remains the CEO of Group Lotus, despite being ‘on leave’ during such a significant week.
It then confirms that Dato’ Sri Syed is still Managing Director of Proton, and blames rumours of both their sackings on comments from Caterham F1 team owner Tony Fernandes, citing sour grapes on his part for the 2012 season success of the current Lotus F1 team.
"Don't take everything he tweets too seriously - perhaps he's still frustrated about owning Caterham instead of Lotus and the fact that he fights HRT and Marussia instead of Mercedes and Ferrari in F1," the release reads.
Fernandes’ F1 team famously lost its Lotus title in 2011 after Proton withdrew its naming agreement with Fernades’ team in favour of the now Lotus-randed Genii Capital owned team.
The Group Lotus release states that its sponsorship agreement with Lotus F1 has been merely ‘reshaped’ and that the relationship will continue until 2017.
The ‘reshaped’ agreement also included a AU$46 million loan to the team from Proton, which includes 100 percent of the team’s tangible assets as collateral.
The release closes with a statement that Proton’s new owner DRB-Hicom has “at no point indicated to Group Lotus that it intends to put the company into administration”.
The company admits however that it is "going through a very difficult phase at the moment, but we are showing true fighting spirit every day in trying to keep this vision alive."
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