Malaysia’s diversified industrial group DRB-HICOM has confirmed its interest in acquiring the 42.7% stake in Proton Holdings owned by state-owned investment company Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

Recent speculation over Proton’s future has sent its stock price soaring to new highs and has forced other interested parties out into the open.

Proton Holdings current chairman Datuk Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh last week revealed to his board of directors that he too had made a bid for Khazanah Nasional’s stake in the company.

Proton was also forced to confirm last week that it was in alliance talks with General Motors, but that these were at a preliminary stage.

Existing shareholders are said to be increasingly anxious about the drain on Proton’s resources from its UK sports car subsidiary Group Lotus.

DRB-Hicom currently is the assembler and distributor of Honda, Suzuki, Isuzu and Volkswagen vehicles in Malaysia. If it were to take over Proton, it would control more than half of the Malaysian automotive market.