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View Full Version : Proton sells stake in Augusta Motor for 1 euro?



wira wan
27-12-2005, 05:44 PM
Yahoo Asia News reported "Malaysia's national carmaker Proton Bhd. announced Tuesday that it will sell its stake in financially ailing Italian motorcycle manufacturer MV Augusta Motor to Italian investment company GEVI S.p.A for only 1 euro.
Proton will give up its 57.75 percent stake in the Italian company which it bought late last year for 70 million euros in a bid to gain access to its engineering technology and award-winning designs.

Under the deal, GEVI will assume Augusta's debts totaling 106.94 million euros and working capital requirements of 32.50 million euros."

Is the news correct?

Just imagine if Proton would to give half of 70 million euros in charity to the extreme poor in Malaysia, it will help a lot to improve their lifes.

orchipalar
27-12-2005, 05:49 PM
TQ...WiraWan:)...Here is the news:

http://rds.yahoo.com/S=53720272/K=proton/v=2/SID=w/l=NSR/R=1/SIG=138eg7cba/EXP=1135763889/*-http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20051227/bs_afp/malaysiaitalyautoprotongevi_051227080426

Err...should that be true...Syabas to Proton...!!!(it would be the 1st time Orchi congratulates on Proton's 'achivement'...can't believe Orchi could ever say that):rolleyes:

bobkee
27-12-2005, 06:04 PM
:eek: Ya gotta be kiddin' me!! :eek:

orchipalar
27-12-2005, 06:06 PM
Err...NOPE!...the Star (http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2005/12/27/nation/20051227115851&sec=nation) reported it too...1 Euro niah...

n our Chief...has carried it too... (http://www.jeffooi.com/archives/2005/12/protons_clearan.php)

Zimon
27-12-2005, 07:12 PM
Malaysia Boleh!!!, where else can this sort of thing happened.???
Whose head is going to roll for this?? Is there a need for ACA to peep into this?

If they keep having problems with a simple "window winding down", how the heck they can invest profitably? rm300 mil------> masuk longkang

We keep surprising the world with all kinds of blunder. What a joke?? :D

orchipalar
27-12-2005, 08:56 PM
Err...freaking trouble is...the consumers' confidence in Proton is dwindling by the days...n Proton could be sinking deeper n deeper into the dark n seemingly bottomless pit...

With this recent move from Proton...the gomen n Proton should save the taxpayers from any more shame...when there would be no compromises in sight in any of the near future...ahem...they should make the right decisions to close the national car production down...or provide the options to sell it to other international auto makers which may be keen to beef up the current facilities to assemble other popular makes of vehicles instead...which malaysia has been known to do better at...for dog gone years already...

Err...the right alternative solutions may then lessen the worries that thousands more could be lining up the jobstreets...should Proton be close down eventually...

Err...then again AFTA or no AFTA...they should also open up the auto market to the rest of many 1st class automakers freely to compete...WITHOUT the freaking A/P shiits...as early as possible...

Ahem...having said that...question remains...when more than 20 years ago in the very beginning...the gomen got the guts n knew how to gamble with Proton...err...would they ever realise when...or be willing to fold the game...to cut further losses... :rolleyes:

juntouz
27-12-2005, 09:31 PM
Goodluck to proton ...
to proton...'why we fall? coz we can learnt pick up ourselves'
keep learning from mistakes and don't be like MG Rover or like UK right now
eventhough most of F1 team based in UK ,but what they have to proud of except Ford Focus,Renault,Peugeot,volkswagen,vauxhall ...all foreign car ...
and for those are Malaysian, 'CAR shows how good your country engineering capability' :D

shali
27-12-2005, 10:03 PM
Idris Jala was asked to account for the alleged financial mismanagement of MAS, that took place before he came in.

Will Proton's new management be treated the same way? Or do we still need to call for Tengku Mahaleel? :confused:

Italian Prime Minister's Office reports:
The Malaysian car company, Proton, has sold its 57.75 per cent shareholding of the Agusta motorcycle firm to the Italian firm, Gevi, for one euro. However, Gevi will be taking on Agusta's debt, worth 106.9 million euro and will be investing 32.5 million as operating capital. In a press release, Proton confirmed that the sale of Agusta, which they saved a year ago with a 70 illion investment, is in line with its strategy of disinvesting non-strategic assets. (AGI)

So it is true that Proton sold its almost 60% share for RM5 Ringgit.

The question now is, will an investigation ensue :rolleyes:

tempuadua
28-12-2005, 12:15 AM
Malaysia Boleh!!!, where else can this sort of thing happened.???
Whose head is going to roll for this?? Is there a need for ACA to peep into this?

If they keep having problems with a simple "window winding down", how the heck they can invest profitably? rm300 mil------> masuk longkang

We keep surprising the world with all kinds of blunder. What a joke?? :D
Perhaps Proton Management should disclose how much profits/dividends they got from Augusta when Proton was the major shareholder? I can't believe that Proton didn't make any profit out of the acquisition. The only comforting thought is that, unlike MAS, whatever "mistakes" Proton did, they did it with their own funds or at least their own internally-generated funds. One fact that differentiate MAS and Proton is that MAS has been "bailed out" by the government using public fund (Buying back MAS from Tajuddin Ramli). With more than RM2 billions in cash, Proton is currently cash rich. But if they keep on making mistake, the money will soon disappear.

KelvC
28-12-2005, 01:32 AM
Perhaps Proton Management should disclose how much profits/dividends they got from Augusta when Proton was the major shareholder? I can't believe that Proton didn't make any profit out of the acquisition. The only comforting thought is that, unlike MAS, whatever "mistakes" Proton did, they did it with their own funds or at least their own internally-generated funds. One fact that differentiate MAS and Proton is that MAS has been "bailed out" by the government using public fund (Buying back MAS from Tajuddin Ramli). With more than RM2 billions in cash, Proton is currently cash rich. But if they keep on making mistake, the money will soon disappear.
Agreed that the rakyat's money was not used to bail out the co, however have to note that it was the shareholder's fund is involved.

The cruz here is what did Proton and its shareholders benefited out of this business venture? Technology transfer? Dividends? Global brand positioning (RM300m??) in the motorcycle industry???

ameer shah
28-12-2005, 09:29 AM
well, enuff said about what proton HAD done wrong with the money when they injected "some" amount into Agusta last year....

but to carry on with that huge Euro100 over something, I think its the best bet to have it sold even by nominal value.....long term decision making by Jala i guess....

and him bringing a British Airways guy to look at operational issue? well, we just have to wait and see...

as they saying goes....guilo can kow tim everything?...... :confused:

isarahim
28-12-2005, 05:28 PM
I would not be surprised if Agusta turns out to be a cash cow in three year's time.

bugbear
28-12-2005, 09:53 PM
Malaysia Boleh!!!, where else can this sort of thing happened.???
Whose head is going to roll for this?? Is there a need for ACA to peep into this?

If they keep having problems with a simple "window winding down", how the heck they can invest profitably? rm300 mil------> masuk longkang

We keep surprising the world with all kinds of blunder. What a joke?? :D
Not all 300 million masuk longkang my friend. Some make their ways into some bigshot pocket also. :D

Teeque
29-12-2005, 08:51 AM
I would not be surprised if Agusta turns out to be a cash cow in three year's time.

Enlighten us isa...

uchangeng
29-12-2005, 11:50 AM
the sales of the italian concern is timed is such as way that it will give the new management team under the incoming MD a new head start. The previous management would naturally looked bad as they were seen to be the one who made the bad decision.

It is a politically motivated move rather than a strategic one. This is the common ill inflicting many a GLC where the CEO is not even a stake owner. They play tai-chi la.. push the problems around, find scapegoats for their incompetency and gloss themselves with whatever little credits they could have give half a chance. Afterall, the employed CEO is going to be there only for a few years and after he makes his milions in renumerations, compensations and bonus, he is off living a good life some place else, never to be any association with the GLS..

Can you place your trust to some employed CEO to make or influence decision that involves millions of the company's money where the later has no long term committment? The answer is a loud NO.. So what happen to GLCs.? Close them, privatise them. If it is for national security, run it like a national secrity firm, don't expect any profit, the CEO is paid like a civil servant, work like a servant. Nothing glamourous!

orchipalar
04-01-2006, 12:27 AM
Err...kudos to Jeff Ooi...our Chief:)...sure looks like Tun Dr. Mahathir is raising more questions about Proton's latest move of selling MV Agusta for less than RM5... (http://www.jeffooi.com/archives/2006/01/sale_of_mv_agus.php)

Ahem...also our MackZulkifli points to the same questions raised as well... (http://www.brandmalaysia.com/movabletype/archives/2006/01/tun_dr_mahathir.html)

Err...btw...who has said not too long ago...ahem..."work with me...not work for me..."? ...n now...how would anyone for the matter...react to those questions raised by Tun Dr. Mahathir...!?:confused:

sirgalahad2010
04-01-2006, 08:42 AM
In MV Agusta, that is. See report in today's Spore Straits Times .

What is TDM up to?

According to Carolyn Hong who wrote the report, "he (TDM) said that since he and Tengku Mahaleel were most involved in the purchase of Agusta, their credibility and honesty were at stake".

I think I see a full-fledged scandal brewing here ;)

When, oh when, will the PM crack the whip and get his agenda going? :(

mmouse
04-01-2006, 09:19 AM
The full letter by Tun & Tengku appears in the Star today, also widely reported in Chinese paper.

Dr. J George
04-01-2006, 10:24 AM
Strange the same questions were not asked for over 22 years of HIS administration! :rolleyes:

Let us not get excited - cause - this is a battle of 'tit for tat' among the 'past leaders, cronies and political wannbees' - each tearing at each others throats to get the better control of the nations 'silver and china?' and nothing to do with the real issues of accountability, transparency and good governance! :cool:

orchipalar
04-01-2006, 10:43 AM
Err...the news broke at 21:00hr or so last night by bernama...Jeff's Screenshots was the first...n Mack's BrandMalaysia had it covered way earlier than any other press including NST which released the news later than The Star...

alexhay
04-01-2006, 10:43 AM
Here is the link of The Star http://www.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2006/1/4/focus/13016648&sec=focus

hudson chia
04-01-2006, 10:45 AM
Dr.George, if he during his 22 years can trust a chicken seller and timber dealer to run a sogososhas and built the country's biggest dam respectively and failed. what do you expect? A inventor who was interview by Lorraine Khan? He and his delima.

Pak Kadok
04-01-2006, 12:23 PM
A case of the kettle calling the pot black or the pot calling the kettle black?

Dr. J George
04-01-2006, 12:37 PM
Welcome to Malaysia - truly a potpuri of hypocrisy and deceit n nobody can stop it!
Its become a way of life! :rolleyes:
Incidentally where were these "morally upright journos" these past 22 years?
Suddenly some seems to have developed a moral fibre? Tentu ada agenda juga:D

sirgalahad2010
04-01-2006, 01:11 PM
The PM can't be amused by all these antics, surely?

Its time he cracked the whip and sacked the non-performers from the Cabinet, the Civil Service, the police and the armed forces!

We are losing ground to Singapore. Just yesterday it was announced that the Spore govt will be spending S$13 billion (that's RM26+ billion!) during the next 5 years to develop R&D capabilities in biomedical sciences, environmental and water technologies and interactive and digital media. These are projected to provide 80,000 highly-paid jobs and S$27 billion value-added in 10 years time.

Look at the sectors we've lost out big-time to Spore: electronics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors and engineering. Not to mention banking and financial services. It seems that the jokers in the EPU, Khazanah, MOF Inc, MIDA and the International Trade & Industry Ministry have been asleep at the helm all these years.

Our stock market is the 6th worst performer in the world, and domestic funds are heading overseas in search of stability and better returns.

And now you have Tun and Tengku sniping from the sidelines!

joker2107
04-01-2006, 09:03 PM
"But if i tell you who i am, you may not like who i am, and it is all that i have"
...john powell sj in why am i afraid to tell you who i am?

sirgalahad2010, if u cud paraphrase d above by replacing "am" wit "have" ... does that give light 2 yr opener query?:)

my pleasure 2 quote from d same book again :

"To understand people, I must try to hear what they are not saying, what they perhaps will never be able to say". :)

d book may be on insights on self-awareness, personal growth and interpersonal communication, but what d heck, if spiritualism can b part of politics, y cant politics b part of spiritualism ... :rolleyes:

USJ27Resident
05-01-2006, 09:26 AM
The next time something like this goes on sale for 1 Euro, or 1 USD or even 1 Ringgit.... please, please - let us know.... mebbe we PAY double that asking amount and WILL turn the company around... then PADAN muka! :mad: :mad: :mad:

I am sure a lot of us in USJ are pretty capable* and want to be like good old Tony Fernandez... remember he oso bought a debt ridden airlines (2 plane outfit!!) for RM1 (2 karipap value with 20sen change!) and made it the biggest threat to all the major airlines in the region :p

*I can already name a few capable fellas on the board of directors :p :D namely, Kwchang, Mack, Orchi, Raymond, (yang Akan berusaha) Tupai, Robert_tec etc etc... (more oso can add...) and I am pretty sure these fellas won't go buying expensive paintings just yet.... :p

uchangeng
05-01-2006, 12:47 PM
Did the last administration sold KTM to a private company for some RM2.00? anyone care to comment on this?

On the subject we are losing out to S'pore in all the feilds you care to remember. Of course we lose and do you think anyone care? Why we lose? we have our very own agenda, of course. Go ask the pemuda boys and they will tell you what Agenda that is. As long as they can cow the Rakyat into continue voting for them and keep their fat asses on their jobs, nevermind the country economy goes to the toilet.

Outside of the African continent and the numerous Latin Americans babana republics, we are probably the only other democracy on the surface of the earth that still practice a communal race-based politics.

PM is fighting an uphill battle and the ex-DPM is watching, counting his cards......

kwchang
05-01-2006, 01:29 PM
Did the last administration sold KTM to a private company for some RM2.00?.....
I believe it was offered but there were no takers.

USJ27resident
... there is never a free meal - taking over the company means taking over the debts as well. You got so much cash to buy a company for RM1 and turn it around?

saml
05-01-2006, 02:04 PM
Everyone is so entrenched with their money making schemes that no one is really concerned if the whole economy goes down the drain. Schemes are hatched to bleed dry the companies that are entrusted to them. The government comes in time and again to rescue and pump in more money for it to be milked again. The examples abound in the last ten fifteen years and the country has lost billions of ringgit. Whatever is happening now is a sandiwara so that the new teams can justify having the government inject funds into it.

orchipalar
05-01-2006, 07:37 PM
Err...the mainstream press n news medias have been relatively quiet about this latest issue brought out into the limelight by Tun Dr. Mahathir...n PROTON is NOT talking...

Proton: No additional statement on Agusta sale
By Surin Murugiah

Proton Holdings Bhd's board is believed to have deliberated on issues raised by its adviser Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former CEO Tengku Mahaleel Tengku Ariff over the sale of its 57.75% stake in MV Agusta SpA for one euro (RM4.50).

However, Proton said in a terse statement on Jan 5 that the company would not be responding to the issues raised by the duo.

"Proton has made the necessary announcement to Bursa Malaysia with regards to the transaction on MV Agusta Motors.

"Therefore, Proton will not issue additional statement pertaining to the matter. Any further update shall be informed accordingly," Proton's head of group corporate communications, Yusri Yusuf, said in the statement.

http://www.theedgedaily.com/cms/content.jsp?id=com.tms.cms.article.Article_9a26396 4-cb73c03a-15f4a7f0-de177e90

More from Mack. (http://www.brandmalaysia.com/movabletype/archives/2006/01/proton_board_de.html)

JackRyan1975
29-03-2006, 02:24 PM
Something juicy from NST:

SHAH ALAM: Slowly but surely, a more complete picture of Protonís controversial purchase of troubled Italian bike maker MV Agusta is emerging. And it is not a comforting picture.

For a start, the board of Proton Holdings Bhd was not aware of all the facts when it invested in Agusta. It did not know that some RM176 million in cash advances were needed to keep the company afloat, Proton chairman Datuk Azlan Hashim said.

Proton also got the short end of the stick in the deal as it could not exercise control despite having more than 50 per cent of the company, he said.

It turned out that the minority shareholders could veto key decisions, maintaining their stake even if fresh capital was pumped in by Proton. Also, Proton could not change the management at Agusta.

It was in August 2005 that the new management found out the full extent of Agustaís troubles.

"We were first alerted when our Agusta representative asked for money. Clearly, we were caught by surprise," Azlan said at a Press conference at company headquarters in Shah Alam yesterday.

Former Proton chief executive officer Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff could not be reached for comment. Calls to his mobile phone went unanswered.

The present board admitted that Agusta was a costly lesson but it was eager to move on.

"It would have been a drain on our resources. Our domestic market is challenged. I think that really is the real issue," said Proton managing director Syed Zainal Abidin Mohd Tahir.

Protonís sale of Agusta drew criticism from Mahaleel and adviser and former prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad, who wanted Proton to explain the sale of the company for one euro and the rationale for the deal.

Proton provided this, and more, at the briefing.

Proton bought a controlling 57.75 per cent stake in Agusta for E70 million in 2004. The family-owned maker of premium bikes had debts of more than E231 million.

Agusta was losing money and "it has not achieved a single operating target", Azlan said.

The firm needed to sell some 44,000 bikes just to break even, but over the last six years, it has managed to sell an average of about 14,000 a year.

A six-month due diligence by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Societe Generale had highlighted these concerns.

"The management team of Proton at that point in time mitigated these concerns," Azlan said.

The past management made a E9 million cash advance to Agusta from Proton Cars UK Ltd while Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Sdn Bhd arranged a E30 million facility for Agusta to buy parts.

"This was done without the knowledge of the board," Azlan said.

Agustaís finances continued to deteriorate, with the remaining E107 million debt to be repaid and another E106 million needing to be pumped in to ensure a turnaround.

"The company was really in dire straits," Azlan said, adding that even its chief executive officer wanted to push it into bankruptcy.

Proton then hired Credit Suisse First Boston to review the situation and look for a buyer. It found two buyers, but GEVI SpA was the better option because it was taking over Agustaís current and future liabilities.

A price higher than E1 could not be obtained as even banks had rejected loan applications using Agusta shares as collateral. This is because they viewed Agusta shares as worthless.

http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/nst/Wednesday/Frontpage/20060329072957/Article/index_html

idolfan
29-03-2006, 02:28 PM
should we laff , cry or just shake our heads in dismay .

bugbear
30-03-2006, 08:18 AM
Over to you Tun M and your sidekick Mahaleel.

sirgalahad2010
30-03-2006, 08:28 AM
It was reported in a Spore newspaper that Proton could take legal action. It quoted an unnamed Msian govt official.

Let's see whether Proton will follow in the footsteps of MAS. MAS has been saying that it will take legal action against certain parties, if justified. We are still waiting.....

tupai
30-03-2006, 07:55 PM
taking legal action against govt 'endorsed' conmen? And in my life time? well i ain't holding my breath...
May the haram money the conmen swindled from the rakyat be their albatross around their neck, when they meet their maker...

may the food they bought with the haram money be a painful choke down the tube.

liar & hypocrites almost all of them! :eek:

Yang Amat Bersembayang that these conmen meet their fate sooner than later.

p/s Heck! even Mat Despatch knows that Agusta motor do not design or make car and we paid them good money to learn car making....duh! ANd what happened to the money, proton paid for kenny roberts 3cyclinder engine design..did we apply it in juara or wot?

bugbear
30-03-2006, 11:53 PM
taking legal action against govt 'endorsed' conmen? And in my life time? well i ain't holding my breath...
May the haram money the conmen swindled from the rakyat be their albatross around their neck, when they meet their maker...

may the food they bought with the haram money be a painful choke down the tube.

liar & hypocrites almost all of them! :eek:

Yang Amat Bersembayang that these conmen meet their fate sooner than later.

p/s Heck! even Mat Despatch knows that Agusta motor do not design or make car and we paid them good money to learn car making....duh! ANd what happened to the money, proton paid for kenny roberts 3cyclinder engine design..did we apply it in juara or wot?

Couldn't agree with you more there yab lato tupai. May their ill gotten wealth be their downfall. I pray that all those ill gotten bullion will one day come back to hunt all these crooked down. :mad:

jasonbhlee
04-04-2006, 04:57 PM
A nice piece.....

M V AGUSTUS: MAHATHIR SUFFERING FROM DEAF & BLIND SYNDROM?



03.04.2006

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad displayed amazing recalcitrance, when confronted with the latest iron-clad evidence that Protonís earlier takeover of Italian motorcycle manufacturer M V Agusta Motors SpA was an unforgivable blunder (under the previous management). Mahathir was not only not remorseful, but continued to fling frivolous accusations at the present management of Proton for disposing Agusta.

Let us first look at why buying Agusta was such a huge folly. Agusta, a manufacturer of the priciest motorbikes for a niche market, was a total commercial flop at the time of acquisition, for the following reasons:

a. Agustaís net asset was negative, meaning that its total liabilities
exceeded its total assets.
b. It had been loosing money for six consecutive years to the tune of 120
million euros.
c. Average sales were 14,000 units a year for the past 6 years, while it
needed to sell 44,000 units a year to breakeven. There was no prospect of substantial increase in sales due to the nature of its products Ė specialized and expensive.
d. It was burdened with huge debt, and there was no visible profit in the
foreseeable future to offset it.

A commercial entity with such miserable financial data and prospect could not possibly be a viable takeover target, unless it could provide justifiable synergy to the investor. So, the only possible justification for Proton to acquire Agusta was one of synergy. But could Agusta really provide synergy to Proton? The answer was an obvious no.

Being a motorbike maker, Agusta had no expertise in automobile manufacture.
In fact, it didnít even design and make engines for its own high capacity motorbikes. It had to buy these from others, due to the lack of economy of scale to make its own. Needless to say, its experience in designing motor car engine was nil. Knowing the low level of Protonís indigenous technology, it was unrealistic to expect the technologists in Proton to work up any meaningful synergy with Agusta, to whom car making was completely alien.

It was therefore a foregone conclusion that Protonís performance should be dragged down by Agusta. And indeed Agusta continued to suffer heavy losses, requiring Proton to pump in large sums of money, making its total cash hemorrhage to 100 billion euros. Without the possibility of synergy and without any prospect of turning Agusta around, Proton had no choice but to dump Agusta to avoid further massive draining of Protonís cash resources.

The responsibility for this financial fiasco must therefore be borne fully by the ones who decided to buy Agusta, not the one who disposed of it.

But Mahathir held on to the opposite view. He was adamant that buying Agusta was a good investment decision. He criticized Protonís disposal of Agusta for one euro as a mistake attributable to Protonís lack of engineering knowledge and understanding of the automotive industry.

Mahathirís argument was that ďmotorbike companies have a lot of engineering knowledgeĒ, citing the case of Honda starting off by making 50 cc motorcycle but ending in making some of the best cars in the world. He concluded then:

ďIt is possible for a motorcycle company to contribute to the development of motor
cars. That is why Proton bought Agusta, it was an investment in a company that
produces the best bikes in the worldĒ.

So, Mahathirís logic is this:

1. Honda moved from small motorbikes to high quality cars, so motorbike
makers
must be good for car makers.
2. Since Agusta makes good motorbikes, therefore Agusta must be good for
Proton.
3. Protonís management thinks Agusta is bad for Proton, therefore these
people
are ignorant of the car industry.

A school boy holding the above views may be pardonable, but for a prime minister who founded Proton and went on to control it for two decades and finally acting now as its adviser, Mahathirís above views are shocking and horribly naÔve. With such mentality from Mahathir, is it any wonder that Proton has been such a problem child for this country, burdening the consumers all these years?

It is true that Honda started with motorbikes and went on to make good cars, but that process took many years, and it is a rare exception (perhaps the only case) that a motorbike maker ended up as maker of top cars. The technologies of making these two products are so different that it is inconceivable that any problematic car maker should contemplate upgrading its operation by acquiring a motorbike maker. Hondaís success as a car maker was attributable to the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of its founder and his team over several decades of hard work, and certainly could not be taken as testimony that all motorbike makers could contribute to making good cars.

As for Agusta, whether it makes good bikes or poor bikes is irrelevant.
Unless it can provide synergy, it is utter stupidity to pay a high price for a company of negative asset that makes heavy losses every year with no prospect of turning it around. As for synergy, only another motorbike manufacturer could hope to achieve synergy with Agusta.

In spite of Mahathirís denial of wrong doing in the acquisition of Agusta, he however betrayed guilty conscience when he resorted to his favourite game
of blame-shifting. He claimed that the decision to buy Agusta was not made
by Protonís board and its chief executive officer alone, but by ďevery oneĒ
including Khazanah, all of whom had studied the project. This claim certainly contradicted the announcement by Protonís chairman Mohd Azlan Hashim on Mar 28 when he disclosed the full details surrounding the entire saga of Agusta. Azlan revealed the startling news that the board only came to discover the pitfall of Agusta in August 2005, after former CEO Tenku Mahaleel Tengku Ariff had left the scene. Among the bad news was that Proton had pumped in tens of million of euros into Agusta without the boardís knowledge, and that minority shareholders of Agusta retained veto power and prevented Proton from taking full control of the company. To be honest, Azlanís revelations did not come as a complete surprise, as it was common knowledge that the then CEO and its adviser ran Proton like their little fiefdom.

Azlan had said Proton did not intend to pursue its former management for causing this financial disaster. However, in the interests of transparency and good governance, and as custodian of public assets, Proton owes the taxpayers and minority shareholders the obligation to seek redress for this inexcusable mishap in a professional manner. Only through an honest probe without fear and favour into the hows and whys (particularly the criminal elements if any) of this misadventure and bringing the culprits to book, could we improve governance and restore public confidence in the governmentís handling of its companies.

As for Mahathirís recalcitrance in the face of overwhelming evidence stacking up against his stance, one cannot help but wonder: is it plain dishonesty or is he suffering from the deaf and blind syndrome?


Kim Quek.