DRB-Hicom, owners of embattled sports car maker Lotus, have reportedly turned down an offer to purchase by, wait for it… Volkswagen.
The offer did not officially come from Volkswagen, because the rumours come via a confidentially-sourced report from Manager Magazin, via Reuters, and even then, only as a derivative of speculated interest in the intermediary owner of Lotus, Malaysia’s Proton.
Even if Volkswagen did make an offer, however, it’s not easy to see the benefit for the automotive giant that already houses luxury, sports and supercar brands like Audi, Porsche and Lamborghini. One explanation could be Lotus Engineering, a separate division of Lotus that employs engineering boffins who live on the bleeding edge of technology, but then again VW aren’t short of skills either.
Forgetting about the VW speculation for a minute though, it’s important to note that DRB-Hicom did in fact decline the offer of £1 from an ‘unnamed’ foreign car maker to rid DRB of its Lotus problem. With around £207 million worth of debt, the lack of a permanent CEO and withdrawal from the 2012 Paris Motor Show, Lotus seem down and out at the moment and it would certainly be tempting for DRB-Hicom to cut its losses.
Instead, Mohd Kamil was bullish about DRB’s future with Lotus saying, “The easy way out was to accept the offer. As a businessman, that was what I could have done to cut the loss, move on. But looking at the intrinsic value of Lotus, the knowledge, the iconic brand with global presence and positioning, coupled with unsurpassed engineering expertise, a talented workforce and its ability to cross function with Proton, we believe we have a business plan that will work for Lotus. If I sell without trying, at the end of the day, I will fail my shareholders.”
So although the future of Lotus remains uncertain at this stage, some small consolation is that there seems to be a commitment to keeping the brand alive; for now at least.