Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Local Norfolk MP Richard Bacon voices concerns over Lotus in Parliament

In my last posting I talked about my gut feeling that Lotus would come out the other side of this DRB-Hicom takeover in good shape.
I am an outsider. I have worked for Lotus in Malaysia. I am not in contact with any Lotus insiders.
I trust my gut.
Several News outlets (BBC/ITV other) have covered the local Norfolk MP Richard Bacon.
He expressed doubts in the House of Commons.
I have taken this from the ITV coverage.

South Norfolk MP, Richard Bacon has told Parliament about his fears for the future of Lotus Cars.
He led a debate last night in which he claimed that Lotus has appointed professional services network, KPMG with a mandate sell the group, possibly to a Chinese business.
"The fact that KPMG has been appointed with a mandate sell Group Lotus to the Chinese is not an enoucraging sign.
"Nor is the fact that the Malaysian banks want their money back from Proton.
"I fear that proton will say it has decided to keep Lotus - while negotitating with the banks for as long as possible to write-off or reduce debt - and then hand what is left of Group Lotus to the Chinese or liquidate it."
– RICHARD BACON MP, SPEAKING IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS Let the dust settle and see what transpires.My Charity project 'Innocence lost in the ice cream forest' is now being formatted for hardback.I have a little more control over this, than the future role of Lotus in the Motor industry.The book will be available on Amazon. All royalty payments go directly to charity.At the end of all this I still have the Motorsport University project. My gut feeling ... The book... The Motorsport University project... and Lotus will all be successful.(I never said I was bright!)

Monday, April 23, 2012

My gut feeling regarding Group Lotus

This post is based on my gut feeling.
Regarding Group Lotus.
I have no idea if the present management will remain in place. Proton are going to put in a Senior Manager.
This is not surprising. DRB-Hicom stated they were surprised at the autonomy Hethel enjoyed.
They have not named the Proton man. When I worked in GM Ruesselsheim, GM always had an executive who reported back to Detroit.
Proton will have an executive who reports back to Shah Alam in Malaysia.

When I attended the ASLI auto conference in 2009, I was joined by a local Automotive celebrity.
This person now has a role with Caterham. I got the impression he felt that Proton would like to sell Group Lotus.
So when I saw that Dany Bahar will get 5% enterprise value of any sale,I was not surprised. At the time Proton hired Dany Bahar, they probably wanted to get Group Lotus in a healthy position, so they could walk away with heads held high.

Mr Bahar’s contract, seen by The Daily Telegraph, says he is entitled to 5pc of the enterprise value of Group Lotus if it is sold or 5pc of the value of its shares if the car maker is floated on a stock market anywhere in the world.
The potential payment comes on top of a guaranteed annual payment of at least £1.2m, including a £600,000 salary and performance-related bonuses.
Mr Bahar joined Lotus in 2009 and he was offered the new contract extension in December last year, a month before DRB-Hicom announced its investment in Proton.

Things change:

One thing is DRB-Hicom has synergies with Group Lotus. They have a University. A private University.
The proposal to open global Motorsport University campuses could benefit both Malaysia and the UK.

Second, whilst being a private concern (DRB-Hicom), they have strong links with the Malaysian Government. If the Malaysian Prime Minister asks them to seriously investigate any and all potential synergies with a view to keeping Group Lotus Malaysian, with a strong but regulated base in England, they will comply.

David Cameron recently visited Malaysia. He asked the PM and DRB-Hicom to keep Hethel open.
Mr Cameron said: "I raised this issue with the Malaysian Prime Minister and with the new Malaysian owners of Lotus's parent company. Lotus makes a key contribution to the UK automotive sector. The sector is doing well and I want to see Lotus succeed and to have a secure future. We are in contact with the company, monitoring the situation very closely and ensuring that it knows about the regional growth fund money that is available."

If DRB-Hicom unload Group Lotus now it would be messy. They (Group Lotus) would be viewed as a basket case. Invest more... WISELY... and it could be a win win for everyone.

My gut feeling is common-sense and political pressure dictates a healthy and profitable future for Group Lotus.

I hope so anyway.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My charity book is free on 22nd April. Download and GIVE money for free.

If you download my eBook on the 22nd of this month, you will make a donation (about $2 USA) to charity.
The book is free to download. It is set up for Kindles, but can easily be downloaded onto computers and other devices. Free apps are available for download onto iPads etc.
The paperback is coming along. Tilo keeps plugging away formatting the book for publication. Patience, it will be available soon...
As an aside. Sue Williams has endorsed the book.
She has written a book (many actually) telling of her travelling adventures.
Here is a video made in the Australian outback. She was researching her latest book.
I'm proud of her. Sue obviously isn't (too) scared of the unknown.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Corporate Shenanigans. Dany Bahar and Azman bin Abdullah open a new company

The Lotus soap goes on.
I'm not sure what comment to make on this...

Now, in a further twist, the EDP has learned that Group Lotus boss Dany Bahar was instrumental with another director, Azman Bin Abdullah, in registering a new joint venture, Lotus Youngman, at Companies House on January 13, three days before the sale of Proton was announced.
Lotus last night said Mr Bahar was unavailable to comment as he was heading to the Beijing Motor Show with officials from China Youngman, which imports Lotus cars.
As I write... It looks like Syed Zainal is now Proton MD . I met Syed at an ASLI conference. I was the moderator when he presented his paper. He was very professional. I liked him. He did say he would look at my proposal. As far as I know he has not.
This a video, taken a day or two ago. Syed Zainal is presenting the New Proton Preve. I assume the people he shares the stage with know of Dany Bahar's 'Corporate' status? 

Monday, April 16, 2012

UKti to discuss Malaysia British trade tomorrow

I see in today's STAR newspaper.

Talks to boost KL-London trade and investments

According to the article David Cameron's visit to Malaysia will be followed up by a meeting with the Malaysian Ambassador in London...

KUALA LUMPUR: A review of British Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to Malaysia will top the agenda in a key meeting with the UK Trade and Investment (Ukti) agency in London tomorrow.
The discussion between the agency's top brass and Malaysia's High Commissioner to Britain Datuk Seri Zakaria Sulong will be an immediate follow-up to Cameron's visit, the first by a British prime minister to Malaysia in almost 20 years.
I have sent a PDF with some video attached to the UKti in KL. It was related to my proposal. MUM a Motorsport University. I know it was received and viewed.
I do not know if it went any further! I've tried anyway.
This weekend was the Grand National in Aintree (near Liverpool). Two horses died. Sad. 
The BBC will not be covering the race next year. Also sad. They will be the media partners for the OPEN University, which seems to be gathering strength, and is advertising in the national newspapers.
Maybe they should look to broaden their educational coverage?
Something for tomorrows UKti meeting (maybe).
Here is portion of an article I have just read:

The Open University see great success with iTunes U app

The Open University is the first school in Europe to reach one million active subscriptions through the iTunes U app and the OU says it is seeing more than 40,000 new downloads each day.
“With more than 50 million downloads to date, we know that students value our high-quality learning materials, and that is really underlined by the speed with which we have reached one million iTunes U app course subscribers,” said Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Organised confusion...

As I write this blog entry, I am hoping my horse will come in tomorrow. Organised Confusion runs in tomorrows Grand National.
I bet once a year. Due to all the noise surrounding Lotus, the name seemed quite apt. 16/1 are not great odds for the National.
I'll enjoy the race anyway!
A lot of press about Lotus. Some fact based. Some conjecture. Some (particularly when referring to Dany Bahar) vindictive.
Think I'll just enjoy the National... go for a jog.
Let the Universe take care of it!
Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

David Cameron to visit Malaysia.

Tomorrow, Thursday 12 April 2012 David Cameron is due to visit Malaysia on a Trade mission. In Malaysia his focus will be on educational services.
I would be very surprised if he didn't talk about DRB-Hicom's recent purchase of Proton and Group Lotus.

Group Lotus are a commercial disaster. Rumours abound about their future. Liquidation is mentioned, as is an imminent sale.

Does David Cameron have an Ace up his sleeve? Can he persuade the Malaysians to pump more money into Lotus?

If not, I would have to say that the future of Group Lotus is bleak. Whatever happens the autonomy of the Group will be greatly reduced.

Good Luck Mr Cameron!

I certainly hope everything works out for the best. I would love DRB-Hicom to actively become involved with my proposal.

Because of all the rumours, Lotus have put out a press release. I have copy and pasted it below. I took it from:
However, it is a general release and viewable on many sites:

11/04/2012 – Statement from Group Lotus
“Never let the facts get in the way of a good story..”
“Take a little look at what we found online. Don’t you think it’s funny? We do. We had a good old giggle. After all, we love a bit of self irony, just as well really. Although it’s funny, this one’s not accurate but then again, why let the facts get in the way of a good story? The inconvenient truth is – surprise, surprise – we have never said that there are no problems at Lotus.
So whilst lots of people obviously feel the need to comment on Lotus’ current situation in the absence of proper facts or evidence, we can’t ignore these particular mistruths any longer even if we would like to, so we have decided to turn a negative into a positive and use this hilarious piece of ‘art’ to set the record straight regarding the status quo at Group Lotus and try to return a little stability to a fast changing situation.
False rumour #1: Dany Bahar is no longer CEO of Group Lotus.
Fact: Rubbish – Dany Bahar still is.
False rumour #2: Dato’ Sri Syed is no longer Managing Director of Proton.
Fact: Again rubbish. He still is.
You can thank good old Tony Fernandes for these two. Don’t take everything he tweets too seriously – perhaps he’s still frustrated about owning Caterham instead of Lotus and the fact that he fights HRT and Marussia instead of Mercedes and Ferrari in F1.
And whilst we’re on the subject of jokes – do you know the latest F1 joke? Mike Gascoyne, Caterham Group’s Chief Technical Officer, has gone missing. Why? He’s looking for the 30 to 40 points he predicted for the last F1 season. Funny.
Speaking of F1: It seems that one special so called ‘independent’ source is at the root of the lion’s share of damaging rumours and misleading stories. The delightful Joe Saward which leads us nicely to….
False rumour #3: Joe Saward is JUST an independent journalist.
Fact: He is an active Director for the Caterham Group.
And unlike some, we don’t want to get too personal, so we’ll leave it to you to judge how ‘independent’ his stories about Lotus are.
False rumour #4: Group Lotus is no longer involved in F1.
Fact: Lotus F1 Team and Group Lotus have reshaped their commercial relationship earlier this year. The new governance agreement signifies the continued commitment of Group Lotus to the team and the sport.
Group Lotus’ branding and marketing rights and subsequent activities remain unaffected by the new agreement until at least 2017. Alongside continued branding and title partnership status, Group Lotus is also the exclusive master licensee for all Lotus F1 Team merchandise.
The new agreement was reached following Group Lotus owners Proton providing team owners Genii with a £30m loan which is repayable within three years. In order to secure the loan Genii used 100% of the F1 team’s assets as collateral meaning that under the conditions of the loan agreement Proton have been given full title guarantee to all plant, machinery, show cars, computers, office and the Lotus F1 Team headquarters.
In addition Proton retains the rights to purchase 10% of the F1 team. Another 10% share option will be activated if the team default on their loan obligations with Proton.
Again we leave it to your judgement how ‘bad’ Lotus’ current situation in F1 is. And speaking of bad situations…..
False rumour #5: Group Lotus is going into administration.
Fact: Rubbish. The takeover of our parent company Proton by DRB-HICOM couldn’t have come at a worse time, but up until that point Proton was (and still remains) fully committed to our five year business plan to create jobs and to expand the factory and business. With the takeover process the funding has been restricted and DRB-HICOM is taking time to understand what to do with the business.
DRB-HICOM is currently in the middle of due diligence of Group Lotus and there have been and continue to be positive discussions between Group Lotus senior management and senior management at DRB-HICOM both here in Hethel and in Malaysia. At no point has DRB-HICOM indicated to Group Lotus that it intends to put the company into administration. The over-active rumour mill is seriously damaging our business reputation, image and credibility but it is what it is.
The simple fact is, and we haven’t denied this – Lotus is going through a very difficult phase at the moment but we are showing true fighting spirit every day in trying to keep this vision alive. This is also a fact – no matter what people outside of Lotus may say or tweet or blog.”

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

DRB-Hicom Proton Lotus. Together they can...

As you probably know. I have a pet project. Unfinished business. What happens at DRB-Hicom is of interest to me!
Will they keep Lotus?
Will they link the Motorsport activities of Proton and Lotus with the private (soon to be) University owned by DRB-Hicom?
If the answer to these questions is YES.
I will be a very happy camper.

The Business Times Malaysia reports that Rothschild and Ernst and Young are being employed to do a due diligence on Group Lotus. It started end of march, and is expected to last six weeks...
Business Times understands that separate teams from Ernst & Young and a unit from the Rothschild Group have the mandate to evaluate Lotus and its management team.

I sincerely hope that my proposal is part of that evaluation.

It makes sense to me. Sadly, I have learned through experience that this does not mean it will make sense to the powers that be...

The above picture is taken from a SKY report on how Burnley football club have added a sports University to their football ground.
Here is the link.
 'Why has nobody thought of it before?' -Brian Barwick FA Chief Executive 2005 - 2008