Updates by The Mole: Khazanah to make necessary discloure on any Proton sale courtesty of Bernama
I met a seasoned investment banker who, I found out later, used to work for KJ when KJ was an ECM director not too long ago and the first thing he asked was, "What do you think of the general elections?". Luckily for me, I was with a "bebas" politician who answered that question and more. It turned out that seasoned I-banker & Co had been talking about the latest deal in town - DRB eats Proton, that story you first read on this blog before The Edge unabashedly frontpaged it as their "breaking story" - before fate and sambuca brought us together.
Mr SIB who used to work with the SIL said it was his professional opinion that DRB got Proton because it also has gotten VW. If you remember, VW had been in talks with the national car since when Dr Mahathir was still PM and they almost clinched a deal. Under Mahathir's successor, however, things went differently as almost everything else went awry, and Proton lost MV Agusta instead for one euro. VW struck a deal with DRB, owned by Syed Mokhtar, the tycoon who turned pariah under Pak Lah and who is now a darling again and seems to be making up for lost time and opportunities.
Of course, like everyone else, our seasoned IB thought Khazanah or Proton should have announced the Proton-DRB deal instead of Dr M, who is just the Adviser to Proton. But that shows that the advisor post can be a very powerful one, as long as one is on the ball. Take note, all advisers.
Now, I was told there is another, more compelling, reason for Syed Mokhtar getting Proton (especially in view that both Naza and Sime Darby, the other two, contenders for Proton are capable of taking the national car to great heights: SD has BMW to beemerize Proton and Naza has Peugeot and Kia, if you want to talk about symbiotic and strategic relationships).
And the reason is not because VW is with him but because Syed Mokhtar is moving north, and not just figuratively. He who built Port Tanjung Pelepas into a Keppel threat and took away Senai from Malaysia Airports is said to be exiting Johore. Yes, some said his rapport with The Sultan of Johor has become untenable (there is no rapport in the first place). To facilitate the exit (or compensate him for his impending losses) Syed Mokhtar gets Penang Port and Proton, and maybe one or two other deals. After all that area called Iskandar is booming big time soon [see Big Cat's latest report on Irda, here] and Syed Mokhtar, most probably Malaysia's richest Malay as nobody seems to know what Daim Zainuddin is really worth, stands to lose big in terms of lost or missed opportunities.
In any case, that is the story I heard.
Understandably, my new seasoned investment banker friend took a while to respond as he contemplated whether to humor me or be frank.
"That is the first time I am hearing this, that he got Proton because of that reason.
"If it is all true, who gets PTP and Senai?"