DRB-Hicom suspends Lotus Group boss
KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 — New Group Lotus owners DRB-Hicom Berhad has suspended chief executive Dany Bahar as part of measures to “facilitate” an investigation following complaints about his professional conduct.
Group Lotus said in a statement yesterday that the suspension CEO Bahar followed an operational review and a complaint against Bahar made by DRB-Hicom.
A DRB-Hicom spokesman said in a statement that in Bahar’s absence, three representatives of Lotus’ parent companies had been authorised by the Lotus board to manage the group.
DRB-Hicom’s latest move comes just months after it bought Proton, the parent company of Group Lotus, in January.
State asset manager Khazanah Nasional Berhad sold its 42.7 per cent stake in Proton to DRB Hicom in January for RM1.29 billion as part of its divestment strategy.
Lotus is wholly-owned by Proton and is currently in the second year of a five-year turnaround plan that could see the firm incur more losses in the coming years.
Proton managing director Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir has denied rumours of its sale of Lotus, fuelled by Khazanah’s divestment of its Proton stake to DRB Hicom.
He told the Financial Times in February that the national carmaker remained committed to Lotus and was not about to get “cold feet and suddenly stop everything”.
Reuters yesterday quoted a DRB-Hicom spokesman as saying it was business as usual at the Lotus headquarters in eastern England, where more than 1,000 workers are employed.
Bahar previously worked in marketing for Red Bull and Ferrari and moved to Lotus after the company had agreed to a deal for Malaysian aviation entrepreneur Tony Fernandes to enter Formula One as Lotus Racing.
Bahar soon made clear he also intended to use the Lotus brand in Formula One, as title sponsor to the then-Renault outfit, a move that triggered legal action and the confusion of having two Lotus teams on the starting grid.
That confusion has been resolved, with Fernandes renaming his team Caterham and Renault becoming Lotus — even though the title sponsorship agreement with Lotus Group has ended.