Malaysia

Syed Zainal Abidin quits Proton

KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — Proton managing director Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir has sent his resignation letter to the national automaker, just days before launching its latest model and weeks after DRB-Hicom Bhd took over the loss-making company.

Business paper The Edge Financial daily reported his resignation today. The Malaysian Insider understands that he will serve his notice until the middle of the year and still attend the launch of the Proton Preve next Monday.

“Yes, Datuk Seri Syed Zainal (picture) has sent his letter to leave Proton,” a source told The Malaysian Insider.

“He will serve his notice first. And he’ll be there to launch the Preve still,” the source added.

There has been speculation that DRB-Hicom chief operating officer Datuk Lukman Ibrahim was already in the running to replace Syed Zainal Abidin, who previously managed second national carmaker Perodua.

The 50-year-old was appointed Proton managing director on January 1, 2006 and in 2008 was named the “Automotive Man of the Year” by the New Straits Times/Maybank Car of the Year 2008 Awards for “strong management and leadership qualities in steering Proton by strengthening its position in the domestic market while making significant breakthrough in the international markets”.

Two years ago, Syed Zainal Abidin received the International Business Leader in Automotive Sector Award at the 2010 Middle East Business Leadership Summit Awards, and the Masterclass Bumiputera CEO of the Year Award at the 2nd Malaysia Business Leadership Awards 2010.

Before Proton, he entered the automobile industry by becoming the Perodua senior general manager in 1999 and in 2005 was made the company’s deputy managing director.

In January, state asset manager Khazanah Nasional Bhd announced the sale of its 42.74 per cent stake in Proton to DRB-Hicom at RM5.50 per share or RM1.291 billion. The sale was concluded last month and DRB-Hicom appointed its managing director Datuk Seri Mohd Khamil Jamil as Proton’s executive chairman and executive director.

Khamil, 56, who has been DRB Hicom managing director since 2006, replaced Datuk Seri Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, who was Proton’s first managing director.

Proton reported last month that its net loss expanded to RM88 million for the third quarter ended December 31, 2011 from a net loss of RM60.1 million previously on weaker sales.

Revenue in the period fell 21.8 per cent to RM1.43 billion from RM1.83 billion a year ago.

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