Mitsubishi Motors sold its 7.93% stake in Proton on Monday, market sources told Reuters, marking the beginning of the end to its 20-year relationship with the Malaysian car maker.


Mitsubishi Motors, which recently raised its full-year loss forecast, hired investment bank CIMB Bhd to sell 43.5 million Proton shares to investors in a sale that raised some 396 million ringgit ($US104 million), the report said, noting that the final price was fixed at 9.10 ringgit per share, according to bankers close to the sale, representing a discount of 5.2% to Proton’s closing market price of 9.60 ringgit.


The sale was made through an accelerated book building process, one dealer told Reuters. “It was done in about two hours and demand was pretty good”, the dealer reportedly said.


The news agency said Mitsubishi Motors and Mitsubishi Corp. have been key partners to Proton since its inception in 1983, supplying engines and car designs.


“It appears to be an amicable split. Nobody’s going out with hard feelings,” GK Goh analyst Azrul Azwar Latif told Reuters.


Proton reported a surprise quarterly loss last month as sales of foreign cars outpaced its ageing models, the report said, adding that, in a bid to recapture market share, Proton recently introduced an all-new saloon car powered by its own Campro engine.


Battling falling sales amid competition from Korean and Japanese makers, Proton may seek another foreign partner to help it develop new models, Reuters suggested, noting that Mitsubishi Motors and parent Mitsubishi Corp. each held a 7.93% stake in Proton before Monday’s sale.


“Mitsubishi Motors is considering the sale of its stake in Proton. Details will be announced as soon as they are finalised,” Mitsubishi Motors spokesman Mitch Hayes told the new agency, which added that no comment was immediately available on the fate of the parent group’s Proton stock, which dealers said was not for sale.


Reuters said that Mitsubishi Motors had indicated that Proton wanted to end the relationship while Malaysian state investment arm Khazanah Nasional, which already has a 32% stake in Proton, was offered the shares but declined to buy the Mitsubishi stake.