Firm 'looks to buy' Norfolk-based Group Lotus

Lotus Exige on display at 2012 Geneva motor show Lotus received £10.4m of government funding in October last year

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An investment capital firm has said it is considering buying Norfolk-based sports car maker Group Lotus.

Lotus was bought in 1996 by Proton, which in turn was acquired by Malaysia's DRB-Hicom earlier this year.

Reports suggested DRB-Hicom had been considering administration as a way of freeing itself from Lotus's debts, but this was denied by Lotus last week.

Genii Capital said it was looking over the company books before deciding whether to make an offer.

'Historic link'

A spokesman for the Luxembourg-based venture capital firm, which owns the Lotus F1 team - formerly owned by Group Lotus, said it respected the "historic link" between Lotus and Norfolk.

"We would not be looking to move anything away from there," he said.

No-one from Group Lotus was available to comment on Saturday, but last week a spokesperson said: "The new Proton owners DRB-Hicom are currently in the middle of their due diligence of Group Lotus.

"There have been and continue to be positive discussions between Group Lotus senior management and senior management at DRB-Hicom both here in Hethel and in Malaysia.

"Despite various rumours in the media to the contrary, at no point has DRB-Hicom indicated to Group Lotus that they intend to put the company into administration and we welcome the opportunity to put that rumour, along with incorrect speculation that production has stopped, that Dany Bahar is no longer CEO and that we are no longer involved in F1, to bed."

Earlier in April, the Lotus F1 team formally ended its title sponsorship with the Lotus Group amid uncertainty about the group's future, but said it would continue to use the Lotus name.

The spokesperson added: "It's no secret that we are going through a very difficult time at the moment due to the change in ownership but we're doing everything we can to get through this period and come out the other side stronger than before."

In October 2011, Lotus received £10.4m of government funding and announced plans to create 1,000 jobs as part of a five to six-year expansion plan.

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