British sports car company Lotus acquired by Volvo owner in bid to revive fortunes

Geely will control a 51% stake in the British carmaker and a 49.9% in Malaysian group Proton.

Lotus unveiled a new Evora model in March.IBT

Lotus has been bought by Chinese automotive giant Geely, which will see the latter take control of a 51% stake in the British carmaker.

The agreement is part of a bigger deal which will see the Chinese company acquire a 49.9% stake in Proton, the Malaysian group that owns Norwich-based car manufacturer Lotus.

By purchasing a stake in Proton, Geely – which also owns the London Taxi Company and Sweden's Volvo Car Group – will be able to expand into the south-east Asian market where it hopes to deploy Volvo technologies to increase its market share.

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Additionally, the Malaysian group will also give Geely access to a number of markets which drive on the left-hand side of the road, such as Malaysia, Britain, Australia and India. Last year, Proton received 1.5bn ringgit (£280.6m, $364m) in financial aid contingent on it finding a foreign partner.

Proton's fortunes have floundered in the last few years as it has gone from being the biggest car maker in the country to playing only a minor role – even in its domestic Malaysian market.

"Proton will always remain a national car and a source of pride," said Malaysia's second finance minister, Johari Abdul Ghani.

"Our very own much-loved brand now has a real chance in making a comeback."

Geely, which aims to produce approximately three million cars by 2020 across all its production lines, is expected to use Lotus' research in materials and technology in a bid to comply with increasingly strict emission regulations in China.

While the British car maker has nursed heavy losses over the last two decades and only managed to reduce them to £27m last year, it has continued to run an engineering consultancy selling sports-car technology.

Lotus, whose participation in Formula 1 ended in 1994 before the name was bought out and used by a different team, expects to post a profit this year.

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At the Geneva car show in March it unveiled a new Evora 400 model. The car is compliant with US regulations, which will see Lotus return to the market after a two-year hiatus, which came after its airbags did not meet the requirements set out by US regulators.

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