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State bank buys half Mitsubishi's Proton shares

The Malaysian state investment arm Khazanah Nasional has purchased more than half of Mitsubishi Motors' 7.93% stake stock in Proton, recently sold to raise cash. The bank's stake has accordingly risen to 34.3% but it will not make an offer for the remainder of Proton's shares, having been granted a waiver from normal share dealing regulations.

Analysts suggest that the bank turned down the offer from MMC and Mitsubishi Corp. of their combined 15.8% stake, and that the additional stake it has taken may have been urged on it by the Malaysian government.

Proton is facing increased domestic competition in Malaysia with the impending relaxation of import tariffs. It owns Lotus Group, and its next Wira model is being mooted as the possible platform for a Rover 45 Series replacement, following the recent exchange of letters of intent between MG Rover and Proton on R&D collaboration.

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