News : Lotus – Bahar suspension, but company ‘not for sale’

Lotus' latest Exige is a stunning drive - and potential customers will be relieved at the latest news.
Lotus' latest Exige is a stunning drive - and potential customers will be relieved at the latest news.

Despite questions being raised about the future of Lotus in the days following Dany Bahar’s suspension from the company, Proton and parent company DRB-Hicom have confimed that the company is not for sale. Following an operational review, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus plc, Dany Bahar was 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 authorised 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 authorised to take up these duties during the suspension period.

Proton 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 rumours 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.

The announcement should help calm the waters at Hethel and dampen speculation across the media about the future of Lotus, and its production in the UK. A spokesman for Lotus told AROnline at the recent Beijing motor show that the cars are in huge demand there. ‘We’ve taken orders or 190 cars since December, and we can’t get them quick enough.’ He added, ‘Chinese customers want British cars, and Lotus’ continued production in the UK is central to the marque’s success here.’

Keith Adams


  1. Phew! At last he’s gone and not a moment too soon. He can’t come back as his credibility is shot, so now it’s down to how much the government wants Lotus to stay. I hope a lot! H

  2. Always puzzles me why a brand such as Lotus has not been snapped up by a company that will actually do something with it. That name and badge is just Iconic and someone like TATA or even VW for instance could get it for small change in their terms, and really take it places. instead it always seems to fall into the hands of bit-players such as Proton.

  3. Good news indeed…that will make it that little bit easier for British Petrol heads to sleep at night!

  4. If the plot thickens any further, the wooden spoon (or is that the carbon fibre one?) is simply just gonna get stuck. I’m not sure if his approach is consistent with what would have occurred at Ferrari but thinking of Lotus simply as a sports car company is the wrong approach. Lotus should be seen as a world class engineering company providing engineering solutions to those that required.. why he never pushed to license Lotus tech to manufacturers is anybody’s guess. The F1 debacle has also been a joke too. That said, Proton are just as much to blame- so many opportunities to use this company’s expertise have been missed, and could have pushed them into Kia/Hyundal territory by now.

    Now what’s going to happen… get a bloody German in charge who can break down the business and actually understand what it really needs..

  5. Remember proton has temporarily suspended danny bahar, so he could be back, but i doubt it and i hope not….

  6. All a bit dodgy if you ask me, suspending the guy that runs the place and sending 3 of your own people. I would not be surprised if they are making an inventory as we speak.

    If DRB-Hicom had any faith in the firm surely they’d let a caretaker manager step in from the Lotus side

  7. It sounds suspiciously like the 270M pound loan was not used for funding Lotus developments, hence the company auditors. 270M + interest charges could’ve been a tool to bankrupt the company forcing Proton to sell it off at a fire sale price. Then this Bahar character could step in with his new (syndicated) banker friends to have their quaint British vanity project all to themselves. As they are not ‘automotive people’ or as Ross A mentions, engineering people, the outcome would have been all too familiar to readers of this site! As it stands at least athere is some Government policing going on and it still belongs to a car/engineering company, all be it a crappy one.
    Lets hope for the best.

  8. Re 4: The problem with your premise, is that Lotus is not a “world class engineering company”. It is a hire-and-fire job shop. As an employer, it has always struggled to attract quality staff, prefering to hire short term contract staff. As GM found, Lotus really has very little to offer, other than a deeply flawed brand.

  9. Lotus’s location in Norfolk doesn’t help; too far from UK based clients (the’re all in the midlands) and forgien clients quickest route is in via KLM at amsterdam. Engineers don’t want to re-locate there as there is no alternative nearby if you want to change jobs. Live in teh midlands and you have several alternative employers you can commute to.

    I know this because I work in Car R&D and live in the midlands, but my home town is just 10 miles from Lotus and my family lives in Norwich!

  10. Re 9: Then you’ll know all about what a dreadful bunch Lotus are. ‘World class’? Nowhere near.

  11. Re 11: Maybe, maybe not. But we shouldn’t keep kidding ourselves, don’t you think?

  12. Lotus aways seems to lack money, and so their products as a consequence are underdeveloped. This in turn creates reliability issues and affects their image – once bitten twice shy!

    They have a great name and legacy in Colin Chapman and Lotus F1, but the company requires money and truely inspirational leadership to push the company forward and make it the world class brand it deserves to be.

  13. @9. That’s one thing I’ve always wondered, why did they never make the move west, at least if not to the West Midlands then at least Warks, closer to the tech ‘base’.

  14. GM only a large worldwide car maker once owned lotus so why would VW snap it up? they always had the chance,something dodgy is afoot with the parent co. i think, a bit like the dodgy italian bloke whom run it years ago and named the elise after his daughter.

  15. Re 13: There’s many issues at Lotus but their engineering excellence in certain areas is acknowledged as world class. We should not be blind to either the problems, or strengths, of this company on whom many careers and incomes depend.

  16. Lotus seem to lurch from crisis to crisis, and having lots of little units dotted all over Norwich cannot be an efficient way of running the company.(One unit I notice has popped up at Costessy, next door to the HQ of the company I work for) I think in all reality, Lotus is a dying brand, with a very limited client base, and as has already been stated, being stuck in Norfolk, which is basically the arse of Britain isn’t the greatest place to be based for distribuiton. Transport links to Norwich are frankly pants too.

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