Speculation grows that Group Lotus chief executive Dany Bahar seeking backers for buy-out bid
The chief executive of Norfolk sports car company Lotus is thought to be looking for backers to help him buy the company from its Malaysian owners, it has been reported.
According to a report in The Sunday Times, Dany Bahar is believed to be seeking a partner to buy the company from the Norfolk car maker's parent company Proton.
Speculation over the ownership of Lotus has intensified after DRB-Hicom, the Malaysian car distributor and importer owned by billionaire Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, bought a controlling interest in Proton earlier this month.
DRB-Hicom secured a 42.7pc stake in Proton Holdings, which bought Group Lotus in 1986, when it agreed a �267m deal with Malaysia's state-owned investment firm Khazanah Nasional.
Proton had backed an ambitious �200m turnaround for Hethel-based Lotus which aimed to transform the company from a specialist niche car campany into a profitable sports car brand, doubling production to about 7,000 models by 2014 and creating hundreds of new jobs.
As part of the vision, the company, which made a pre-tax loss of more than �20m last year, managed to secure �10m from the government's regional growth fund (RGF) to create an engineering research centre at Hethel.
However, it was understood any major change in the Proton funding was likely to trigger a review of the government's position.
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It was understood DRB-Hicom would be conducting a review of the Lotus turnaround plans which was to include an assessment of the firm's involvement in international motorsport, especially Formula One, where it has teamed up with Renault and signed former world champion Kimi Raikkonen as part of plans to promote the Lotus brand.
Mr Bahar may face competition for ownership of Lotus from Luxembourg-based Genii Capital which already owns the Lotus Formula One team.
No-one at Lotus was available for comment.