Malaysia's state-controlled carmaker, Proton Holdings, on Friday said it was negotiating with a potential buyer for its stake in Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta.

"The Board of Directors of Proton Holdings would like to inform that Proton Capital Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Proton Holdings, is in active discussion with a financial investor regarding a potential transaction," Proton said in a statement cited by Reuters, giving no further details.

The news agency noted that Proton was replying to a stock exchange query over a newspaper report that it was seeking a buyer for its 57.7% stake in Agusta.

Reuters noted that Proton reported a net loss of 154.3 million ringgit (US$40.8 million) in its fiscal second quarter ended on 30 September, hurt by bad-debt charges related to Agusta.

The report added that Proton rescued Agusta a year ago by pumping EUR70m ($83 million) into the struggling firm, allowing it to pay off its debts, but the move into motorbikes surprised many investors.