Group Lotus deal finalised by Chinese giant Geely

Lotus cars assembly line at the Hethel plant. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Lotus cars assembly line at the Hethel plant. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Chinese car giant Geely has finalised the purchase of a controlling stake in sportscar maker Group Lotus for a reported £100m.

It was announced last month that a 51% stake in the EDP/EADT Top 100 manufacturer has been had been snapped up by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, alongside a private equity firm.

The contracts were signed at a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, attended by the Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, with the acquisition expected to be completed in three months.

Geely, which is also buying 49% of Lotus' Malaysian parent company Proton, said it would aim to make both businesses competitive and open up new markets.

Geely chairman Li Shufu said: 'The deep regional knowledge we gain from Proton and Lotus through this transformative partnership, coupled with our technological expertise and leadership in innovation, opens the door for ZGH to become a major player in the ASEAN [Association of South East Asian Nations] market and will help us reach our sales target of three million units by 2020.

'We will work together to make the most of our respective strengths to ensure a bright and sustainable future for both brands based on mutual respect and trust.'

Lotus production will be increased and expanded and will target three Southeast Asian markets, with the aim of pushing Geely's overall sales in the region past three million by 2020.

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Geely is the parent company of Volvo, where it has carried out a successful turnaround of the business since acquiring it in 2010.

Lotus, which is based at Hethel near Wymondham, is famous for its participation in Formula One where it was represented by drivers such as Ayrton Senna and Jim Clark. The manufacturer also featured in James Bond films with the Lotus Esprit appearing in The Spy Who Loved Me and the Lotus Esprit Turbo appearing in For Your Eyes Only.