KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia's top car maker Proton won shareholder approval on Wednesday for a corporate revamp paving the way for possible partnerships to help it fight off foreign competition.
Proton Chairman Abu Hassan Kendut said the revamp was expected to be complete by April.
His Chief Executive Officer, Tengku Mahaleel Tengku Ariff, told reporters Proton was in talks to form strategic alliance with "a couple" of foreign car makers but declined to name them.
State-controlled Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd (Proton) announced plans last May to form an investment holding company to take over its listing status.
The holding firm would free Proton to forge strategic alliances without diluting the government's stake.
The restructuring will allow different company segments to chase business and even joint alliances on their own. Such moves could have prompted conflicts of interest under the old structure. Proton, with a market capitalization of five billion ringgit ($1.3 billion), has said existing shareholders could exchange each of their shares for a share in the new company.
Government-linked investors hold a 49 percent stake in the company and Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has 15.9 percent stake.
In 2000, Malaysia said it would look for a possible foreign partner for Proton, but found no takers at that time. Top global carmakers like Ford and DaimlerChrysler were rumored to be potential partners.