Bright Future For Lotus Under New Ownership Date: 31 October 1996

Contact: Alastair Florance
Embargo: Immediate

Malaysian automaker Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Berhad (Proton) has acquired a controlling interest in Lotus Group International Limited. Lotus, the British automotive engineering and manufacturing company widely known for its luxury sports cars, was purchased from ACBN Holdings S.A., Luxemburg, for £51 million ($83.64 million).

The change in ownership will not affect the way in which the Norfolk-based company's businesses are managed. Lotus Engineering will continue as a leading engineering technology and services resource to automotive and industrial clients worldwide.

New export markets, particularly in the Far East, are anticipated as a result of the sale.

"The Far East is not the only venue where Lotus will be making significant inroads," says Lotus Cars USA CEO James G. Selwa. "This partnership will strengthen our North American operations and its ability to provide the highest quality products and services possible to our dealers and customers."

Proton, through this acquisition, is keen to expand collaborative activities which enhance synergies and develop new technologies. Lotus' expertise in product development and engineering and its exclusive patents will compliment Proton's capability in manufacturing. It also will provide the Malaysian manufacturer with additional research, development and engineering resources.

In addition, Lotus' Styling Centre, an acknowledged world leader, will also be strengthened. The new partnership, by increasing the range of products, will secure the long-term future of Lotus car production and the jobs it supports. Together with Proton, Lotus also will participate in the World GT1 Motor Racing Championship.

Tan Sri Yahaya Ahmad, Chairman of DRB-HICOM, Proton's parent company, says, "We see our strong partnership in a very positive light, mutually benefiting both Lotus and Proton. In concluding the deal, both companies are aware that we can draw from each other's strengths and become more competitve."

By the end of the decade, Proton will expand its product range and produce 500,000 cars annually. The acquisition of Lotus provides Proton with some of the world's best research and development facilities allowing it to compete at the highest level in the international automotive marketplace.