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Lotus's new owner will double UK production and build cars in Malaysia

The Malaysian car maker Proton yesterday completed the acquisition of Lotus and pledged to double production of the Elise sportscar at the company's Hethel plant in Norfolk.

Yahaya Ahmad, chairman of Proton (pictured left) also said it intended to start building about 2,500 Lotus cars a year in Malaysia, increasing annual production of the Elise to 5,000.

Proton, Malaysia's biggest car maker, is buying an 80 per cent stake in Lotus for pounds 51m and providing a further pounds 13m of working capital. Romano Artioli, the Italian entrepreneur who bought Lotus three years ago from General Motors, will retain a 20 per cent stake.

Mr Ahmad, one of Malaysia's richest businessmen, will take a personal stake of 16.25 per cent while Proton will own 63.75 per cent

Photograph: Simon Hadley/ Assignment