Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and France's PSA Group are expected to bid for a strategic partnership with struggling Malaysian carmaker Proton Holdings, owner of the UK sports-car maker Lotus, reports said.
Geely could make a bid early next week, Reuters reported. PSA also plans to bid for Proton to help its growth plans for southeast Asia, French daily Les Echos said.
Proton's owner, Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom said earlier this month it was waiting for prospective foreign carmakers to submit bids for a strategic partnership.
Geely, which owns Swedish automaker Volvo, is expected to offer Proton some of the latest vehicle technologies it has developed with Volvo's input. for a stake in Proton. The people with knowledge of the bidding said Geely is looking for at least a 51 percent stake.
By offering Proton some of its own technologies, Geely hopes to help Proton's sales in right-hand-drive markets, including Malaysia, the UK, India and Australia, the people said. "There are 8 million RHD vehicles sold every year globally," one of the individuals said. "Geely sells roughly zero RHD cars, so even if Geely cars were sold under Proton, if nothing else Geely would make a handsome license fee."
"The overall plan is basically to invest in Proton to bring it back to global (sales) levels it had in the 1990s," the person added.
The technologies include those Geely has used to engineer midsize vehicles such as its GC9 sedan and Boyue SUV, as well as small car technologies developed with Volvo, the people said. Strong sales of the GC9 and the Boyue SUV helped Geely grow its China sales by 50 percent last year to 765,851 vehicles.
Geely's investment would help Proton grow its sales overseas and recover some of the global presence it has lost in recent years, the people said.
Reuters contributed to this report