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CAR interviews Dany Bahar on the crisis at Lotus (2012)
17 April 2012 14:41
CAR yesterday sat down with Dany Bahar, the chief executive officer of Lotus Cars, to discuss the company's financial situation. He talked about the recent takeover of parent company Proton by DRB-Hicom and what it means for Lotus, the financial performance of Hethel and the latest on plans to launch the new Esprit supercar and all the other new Lotuses in the pipeline. Read on for CAR Magazine's full interview with Dany Bahar, split over the next three pages.
CAR: It must have been a crazy couple of months for Lotus…
Dany Bahar: 'It was actually more crazy at the beginning than it is now, but it’s okay.'
Was the Proton sale to DRB-Hicom a surprise to you?
'Yes. There were speculations from the beginning that Lotus was going to be sold one day, that it was too expensive, that it was too unrealistic, too nonsense, blah, blah, blah. But then Proton got sold, that was a bit of a surprise, especially when Proton was starting to do well, and their future product line-up is really exciting, so the next five to six years for Proton has a very bright future.'
But last year’s results weren’t very good…
'That was actually because of us, but the results of Proton on its own, they’re a profitable company since many years, and with the current product they have – and I must admit that’s not the best they’ve got… but they’re launching a new car today, that’s the first car of a new generation, and that’s a very exciting car and there are many products coming – the global small car is coming – ones that we’ve seen in Geneva motor show two years ago with Giugiaro, so they have a few good products coming out, so they can only get better. So I was surprised that now things are starting to work out, that it got sold. That was a surprise.'
How did you find out? Was it an email, a phone call?
'It’s not a thing that happens just like that, there’s a lead up, and I was involved in the information they share from the start. All the subsidiaries received the message from the mother company. When exactly it happened and how it happened is out of my knowledge.'
Have you been over to see the management at DRB-Hicom?
'Yes, just once. The second time they were here, just a few weeks ago. They stayed for a week or two.'
What were their impressions of Hethel?
'I think they need to first understand what they have bought. It’s something that’s outside what they normally do in their day-to-day business. They need to understand what animal they bought in terms of Proton, which is a very large company with 11,000 employees and subsidiaries, and one bit of that is Lotus, so you need to give them time to go through every single company to see what they’re doing.'
How did they respond to your four-car model plan?
'They still need to understand whether the plan which we started two years ago is something they want to support, or modify it… all we can do is to show what we have done in the last two years and that’s it, that’s all we can do. It’s not up to me to discuss shareholder matters.'
We understand that Lotus is for sale. Is that true?
'I don’t know if Lotus is for sale, nobody told this to me officially. All I think is that the new shareholders want to keep their options open, therefore they have done a thorough review of our business, and now the results of that review will form the basis for them to take a decision. There are many options.'
>> Click 'Next' below for more of CAR Magazine's interview with Dany Bahar, CEO of Lotus Cars