Car maker Lotus in talks on sale to China, MP reveals

Lotus Exige on display at 2012 Geneva motor show DRB-Hicom said it was still supporting Lotus "both financially and management-wise"

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The owners of sports car maker Lotus, which employs 1,200 staff, are in talks with a Chinese firm about a possible sale, an MP has revealed.

Richard Bacon MP has raised concerns a sale of the Norfolk-based firm could lead to jobs being moved to China.

Mr Bacon, South Norfolk MP, told the House of Commons consultancy firm KPMG "has been appointed with a mandate" to sell Group Lotus to the Chinese.

Lotus, which is owned by Proton, part of DRB-Hicom, has not commented.

Mr Bacon told the Commons it was "not an encouraging sign" and he was concerned at the "potential threat which exists to 1,200 local jobs".

'Immense worry'

His comments appear to contradict an earlier statement from Malaysian group DRB-Hircom, which said it had not decided to sell Lotus Group.

In a statement, it said it was still supporting Lotus Group "both financially and management-wise".

"As of today, DRB-Hicom has identified one of Proton's senior management personnel to take up a position in Lotus Group in an effort to strengthen its management," it said.

In his speech to the Commons, Mr Bacon said Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to the head of Proton, Dato' Sri Syed Zainal, during his recent trip to Malaysia.

Hours after that meeting, the head of Proton was "in China seeking a buyer for Group Lotus", Mr Bacon added.

"This has naturally caused immense worry and concern for the 1,200 employees at Group Lotus," he said.

"And it is unnecessary, because there are well-capitalised potential buyers of Group Lotus with a credible plan to keep the business and the jobs in the UK."

He add that one Chinese business, China Youngman, has had a commercial relationship with Lotus for many years.

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