May 3, 2012
-- Morton Solutions, a Norwich-based sales company, are concerned but are assured that Lotus will be staying in the local area. Lotus is owned by automotive giant Proton, but the parent company was recently bought by Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom, which is yet to reveal its long-term plans for the sports car specialist and its Hethel factory which employs 1,200 people.
Fears that Hicom intended to sell Lotus to a buyer that would halt UK operations heightened when South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon revealed in Parliament last week that consultants KPMG had been appointed to evaluate Lotus for a sale. But in an interview with the Malaysian national news agency Bernama, Hicom managing director Datuk Seri Mohd Khamil Jamil said KPMG’s appointment was made before his firm acquired Lotus and had now been frozen. The Director at Morton Solutions said, “This is a good reassurance that Lotus will be staying in the local area.”
In his comments Mr Khamil Jamil highlighted that there were many decisions made before Hicom acquired Proton and that the appointment of KPMG was just one of them. He went on to address ongoing speculation that Hicom is still intent on eventually selling Lotus. He said, “The operations audit on Lotus is still ongoing in accordance with our governance process and I reiterate that we have not decided on selling Lotus.” A source at Morton Solutions said, “Such great news for Lotus and the local economy and area.”
When Lotus’ future was thrown into doubt by Hicom’s purchase of Proton, the Eastern Daily Press launched a campaign, backed by MPs and regional business figures, to put the case forward for keeping the company’s Hethel base operational. Meanwhile the cause has been pursued in Westminster by Norfolk MPs led by Mr Bacon, who today positively greeted the comments from the Hicom managing director.
He said: “I understand that the group managing director has made these comments and I think they are a very welcome development. There has been a great deal of concern in Norfolk about the future of Lotus and about rumours of a sale. The managing director’s confirmation that any such plans are on hold are very welcoming indeed.” The managing director at Morton Solutions said “I hope the future of Lotus is bright and that it will stay in the local area and not be sold.”