The future of Malaysia's first national car company, Proton Holdings, has come into focus once again after the company's chairman Datuk Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh confirmed he is considering leading a management buy-out of the company if the Malaysian government was prepared to sell a controlling stake.

Having denied any such suggestions a month earlier, the company's chairman pointed out that Proton has the potential to become a significant regional player if it was given the "entrepreneurial spirit it lacks, together with some additional innovation and creativity".

He pointed out that the company is "fairly well managed" and financially strong, and that the task of turning it around would not be too difficult.

Other domestic companies interested in taking over Proton Holdings include DRB-HICOM Bhd and Yasmin Holdings Sdn Bhd. They are said to have submitted takeover proposals to the government recently, according to local sources.

Proton is currently in talks with Germany's Volkswagen on developing a product and production sharing partnership, though this is not thought to involve a takeover of the company.

Tony Pugliese