Lotus may as well pack it in

UPDATE Following a number of media queries, PROTON Holdings Berhad (PROTON) today confirmed that, following an operational review, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus plc, Dany Bahar has been temporarily suspended from his role to facilitate an investigation into a complaint about his conduct made by Lotus’ penultimate parent company, DRB-HICOM Berhad.

In Mr. Bahar’s absence, Dato’ Lukman Ibrahim, Mr. Mohd Khalid Yusof and Mr. Aslam Farikullah (representatives of Lotus’ parent companies) have been authorized by Group Lotus plc’s board to handle and conduct the day-to-day management and affairs of the Lotus Group. They will be assisted by Mr. Rusman Zaihan. They have been authorized to take up these duties during the suspension period.

PROTON today also reiterated that its holding company DRB-HICOM Berhad (DRB-HICOM) is not selling Lotus, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PROTON, despite the recent media reports on speculation and rumors coming from unreliable sources on the purported intent to sell.

According to Executive Chairman of PROTON Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd Khamil Jamil, “We acknowledge that Lotus can provide value to PROTON. Lotus is an iconic brand with global presence and positioning, coupled with unsurpassed engineering expertise and a talented workforce."

Earlier this month, Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd Khamil visited Lotus facilities at Hethel in Norfolk, UK. In conjunction with the visit, Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd Khamil also had constructive meetings with South Norfolk MP Mr. Richard Bacon and British Business Secretary, Mr. Vince Cable. Commenting on the meetings, Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd Khamil said, “They were both very supportive of our views and developments with regard to the future plans for Lotus. And subsequent to the meetings, the British Government has agreed to consider reactivating the £10 million Regional Growth Fund pledge to support Lotus’s vehicle development plans in Norfolk."

According to Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd Khamil, “Both PROTON and DRB-HICOM will continue to review the existing business plans and financial position of Lotus in taking Lotus forward in the immediate- to medium-term. DRB-HICOM has sent in a team comprising local and international consultants to Lotus from March 2012 to conduct an operations and legal audit on Lotus group of companies."

The need for this review is especially pertinent in light of the existing financial obligation of Lotus in the form of a £270 million syndicated loan taken at the end of 2010, for which PROTON has given its corporate guarantee.

05/28/12 With Dany Bahar sacked, look for the new owners of Lotus to pull the plug on their IndyCar program. They were 15 mph off the pace at Indy, so slow their two remaining cars were black flagged. At this point their further participation is only ruining the Lotus name. They came off as losers in the public eye.

And none of the drivers want to run their engine. Some teams already switched and there were only two left for the Indy 500.

''I'm disappointed because it was a hard job for us to be here," Alesi said. ''The team worked very, very well. We didn't have the speed with the engine. That was, of course, the reason why the organization decided to stop us."

''We knew it was going to be tough. We knew this was a scenario that could play out and we just have to go to the next one," De Silvestro said. ''I think on the road course, we can mask how much horsepower we have right now, so we'll try to work on that."

''Hopefully, Lotus is going to bring some new updates for Detroit," she said. ''If not, it's going to be really frustrating for everybody." She will be the sole Lotus car for the foreseeable future.

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