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Malaysia's Proton faces uphill climb back to 'national' stature

Buyer Geely's bullishness belied by weak brand power

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Proton will now work to reclaim its status as Malaysia's national car brand with the help of Chinese automaker Geely.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Even with support from Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, Malaysian automaker Proton Holdings has a difficult route to travel amid stalling sales at home as well as the duo's underwhelming brand power abroad.

The Chinese company agreed late last month to buy 49.9% of Proton from DRB-Hicom, letting the Malaysian corporation retain a majority stake and promising to protect Proton's "national car" status. But the move was seen as Geely taking the lead in overhauling the ailing brand.

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