GM Eyeing Stake In Malaysia's Proton

CEO Richard Wagoner says GM is "driving aggressively in emerging markets."

General Motors is interested in acquiring a stake in Malaysia's sagging Proton Motors group, GM's chief executive Richard Wagoner said Jan. 17. Wagoner told AFP that the world's leading automaker has been involved in discussions about the future of Proton, the Malaysian automaker which has been losing market share. Malaysia's government owns 59% of Proton.

"A mutual opportunity with Proton is something that has been out there," Wagoner said. "But I have no idea where it's going. There are other people in (the discussions) that have been in longer than we are," he said. Germany's Volkswagen AG and France's Peugeot-Citroen Group have also been named in Malaysian news reports as being interested in acquiring a stake in Proton.

Wagoner spoke after delivering a speech at the Automotive New World Congress. He said in the speech that emerging markets would be one of the keys to GM's future success. "To win in today's global industry, you need to minimize and aggressively address the downs ... and drive hard on the ups," Wagoner also said in his speech. "For GM, that means we're driving aggressively right now in emerging markets ... like China, Brazil, Russia.

"Fifty-five percent of our unit sales were outside the U.S. in 2006, and that percentage will continue to grow," Wagoner said. "Going forward, we continue to see tremendous growth opportunities in China, India, Korea, as well as Russia, Brazil, the Middle East, the Andean region and other emerging markets," the GM chief said.

Wagoner also said in his speech that the U.S. needs to adopt energy policies that encourage alternative energy sources. "For the global auto industry, this means that we must -- as a business necessity -- develop alternative sources of propulsion based on alternative sources of energy ... in order to meet the world's growing demand for our products," he said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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