Dany Bahar has been suspended from his role as chief executive officer at Group Lotus following a complaint about his conduct, parent company DRB Hicom has confirmed.
The confirmation follows an afternoon of speculation over Bahar’s future. Bahar was due to be at the Monaco Grand Prix today, but missed appointments at the event. Reports suggest he was instead called to Malaysia, where he was given news of his suspension.
DRB Hicom said it made the decision following an operational review, and staff at Lotus’s Hethel, Norfolk headquarters were informed earlier today. Nobody other than Bahar has been suspended.
Although no details of the investigation have been revealed, sources have indicated that Bahar will be welcome to return to his position if the investigation finds no fault on his part. It is not clear how long the investigation will take.
“Group Lotus plc (“Lotus”) can today confirm that, following an operational review, chief executive Dany Bahar has been temporarily suspended from his role to facilitate an investigation into a complaint about his conduct made by Lotus’ penultimate parent company, DRB-Hicom Berhad,” a DRB Hicom statement said.
“The penultimate holding company would like to stress it is business as usual at Lotus,” a DRB Hicom spokesman added to the Norwich Evening News. “We fully support the company and will continue to support Lotus in its business endeavours and development.”
In Bahar’s absence, DRB Hicom has handed running of Lotus’s day-to-day affairs to Dato’ Lukman Ibrahim, Mohd Khalid Yusof and Aslam Farikulla. Current CFO Rusman Zaihan will assist them.
Bahar joined Lotus from Ferrari in September 2009, and launched an ambitious programme to launch up to six new models and make the Norfolk car manufacturer profitable. These were all revealed at the Paris motor show in 2010.
The Lotus five-year plan, as Bahar christened it, has evolved in the 20 months since. Lotus has since started development of its own engine and gearbox, and has focused development on just one new model, the Esprit, while continuing to improve the current range of Elise, Exige and Evora models.
But the future of Lotus has been in limbo since parent firm Proton was sold to Malaysian automotive investor DRB Hicom earlier this year.
A spending freeze was placed on Lotus while auditing work was carried out. That 60-day period has elapsed with no news on DRB Hicom’s long-term decision on Lotus.
However, Lotus has been able to continue development of the Esprit and restore production since the spending freeze was lifted.