Singapore's GIC buys 5 pct of Malaysia's Proton


KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 (Reuters) - The Government of Singapore Investment Corp Pte Ltd (GIC) has bought a 5.04 percent stake in Malaysia's Proton Holdings , emerging for the first time as a substantial shareholder of the carmaker, Proton said.

GIC is a state investment firm which manages Singapore's foreign reserves and holds a wide range of mainly blue chip assets from Japanese and Korean real estate projects to U.S. bonsd an equities.

Proton said in a statement late on Tuesday that GIC bought a total of 27.6 million shares or 5.04 percent in the company at an undisclosed price.

Proton shares were up 3.3 percent at 9.30 ringgit ($2.45) by 0303 GMT.

Proton said the deal was done on November 9, the day Japan's biggest trading house, Mitsubishi Corp. said it was not looking to sell its stake in Malaysian carmaker Proton in the wake of Proton's move to link up with Germany's Volkswagen AG .

Mitsubishi Corp, a founding member of the Proton project to develop a Malaysian car-making industry, still owns 7.93 percent of the state-controlled carmaker. The Malaysian government owns 45 percent.

Speculation about the future of Mitsubishi's stake resurfaced late last month when Proton, Malaysia's biggest carmaker with around half of the local market, struck a deal to assemble Volkswagen cars in Malaysia for sale in Southeast Asia.

Volkswagen did not take an equity stake in Proton under the deal, but industry analysts say this may follow. Under the deal, the first Malaysian-assembled VW models will be launched by the end of 2005, generating sales of over 15,000 units in 2006.



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