PROTON Holdings Berhad (PHB; informally Proton) is a Malaysian automotive
company and automobile corporation active in automobile design, manufacturing,
distribution and sales. Proton was established in 1983 as Malaysia's sole
national badged car company until the advent of Perodua in 1993. The company is
headquartered in Shah Alam, Selangor, and operates additional facilities at
Proton City, Perak. 'Proton' is a Bahasa Malaysia acronym for Perusahaan
Otomobil Nasional (National Automobile Company).
Proton was originally a manufacturer of rebadged Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) products in the 1980s and 1990s. Proton produced its first indigenously designed (though Mitsubishi-engined), non-badge engineered car in the year 2000, and elevated Malaysia as the 11th country in the world with the capability to design cars from the ground up. Since the 2000s, Proton has produced a mix of locally engineered and badge engineered vehicles. Proton cars are currently sold in at least 15 countries, the majority of which are in Asia.
Proton was originally owned in majority by HICOM, with minority stakes being held by Mitsubishi Group members. By 2005, Mitsubishi had divested their stake in Proton to Khazanah Nasional, and in 2012, Proton was fully acquired by DRB-HICOM.
Proton has been the owner of Lotus Cars since 1996. In May 2017, DRB-HICOM announced plans to sell a 49.9% stake in Proton and a 51% stake in Lotus to Geely Automobile Holdings. The deal was signed in June 2017, and since then, Lotus ceased to be a unit of Proton.
On 29 September 2017, DRB-HICOM announced changes to the board of PROTON Holdings Berhad. Following the signing of a Definitive Agreement with China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Limited on 23 June 2017, the Chinese carmaker acquired 49.9% equity in Proton. The announcement on 29 September saw a new board of directors put in place in PROTON Holdings, Proton Edar (the local distribution arm) and Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Sdn Bhd (PONSB).
Three nominees from Geely Holding joined the boards; Daniel Donghui Li, the Executive VP and CFO of Geely Holding; Dr Nathan Yuning, the Executive VP of International Business of Geely Holding, and Feng Qing Feng, the Group VP and CTO at HK-listed Geely Auto. DRB-HICOM are represented by Dato' Sri Syed Faisal Albar, who chairs the boards, and Amalanathan Thomas and Shaharul Farez Hassan. Both are part of the senior management team at DRB-HICOM.
Also named on the same day was Dr Li Chunrong, who joins PONSB as CEO. Dr Li is the third foreigner to head Proton. Between 1993 and 1997, the early years of Proton, two different Japanese nominees of their-then partners, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, helmed the carmaker.
Proton, predominantly reliant on its domestic market, is presently undergoing a transformation process as part of a long-term turnaround plan, with hopes of returning to profitability and regaining an international presence. Proton's tie up with Geely is expected to put the company back on track with the introduction of the much-awaited SUV named Boyue touted to go on sale by end of 2018.