Group Lotus’s new Malaysian-based owner, DRB-Hicom, is actively seeking a Chinese buyer for the troubled engineering group and sports car maker, according to the South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon.
Bacon, whose constituency covers Lotus’s Hethel headquarters, 10 miles south of Norwich, says he understands global business consultancy KPMG has been retained as a “corporate salesman” to find a new owner for Lotus. He says the bombshell revelation emerged in last night “just before” an hour-long parliamentary debate on Lotus’s future began at 9pm. The debate was attended by MPs from neighbouring constituencies and Mark Prisk, minister of state for business, innovation and skills responded on behalf of the government.
The debate’s purpose, says Bacon, was to highlight the value to the Norfolk region of Lotus’s special technical skills and innovation culture, and to signal concern at the danger to Lotus’s 1200 Hethel-based jobs a change of ownership could bring. Bacon claimed the employment contract of Lotus CEO Dany Bahar contains a financial incentive to find a buyer for the company.
Bacon further pointed out that a few hours after British Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent meeting with Proton boss Dato’ Sri Syed Zainal, aimed stressing the UK government’s view of the extreme importance of retaining Lotus’s skills and jobs in Norfolk, Zainal had travelled to China to seeking a new owner for Group Lotus.
Mark Prisk, the minister, said the government recognised the need to “keep talking at all levels on this important issue” and made it clear that a grant of around £10 million to assist Lotus’s much-publicised expansion plans had been placed “on hold” since the DRB-Hicom acquisition, and would remain so until the situation clarified.