The Naza Group is taking proactive steps to become the franchisee for more automotive brands, said its group chief operating officer, Al-Jeffery Ibrahim.
This comes even as the company, among the prominent business conglomerates in Malaysia, braces itself for greater challenges in the wake of the global economic crisis and a competitive automotive industry.
Last month, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed announced that under the National Automotive Policy (NAP) review, foreign firms would be given manufacturing licences to hold a 100 per cent equity in companies producing luxury vehicles, with an engine capacity of above 1,800cc and costing more than RM150,000.
When asked if the economic meltdown and the recent NAP review would impact the Naza Group's future growth, Al-Jeffery pointed out that in 2008 and this year, a lot of automotive manufacturers had been affected by the crisis.
"Naza, to some extent, made adjustments to ride out the economic crisis but in the long run, we are quite optimistic that things will get better.
"Irrespective of whether foreign partners, assemblers or manufacturers come to Malaysia, we have prepared ourselves to become a franchisee for more automotive brands," he said when met at the recent International Business Review Award 2009 (IBR Award) in Putrajaya, Selangor.
The chief executive officer of Naza Group, SM Faisal Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd managing director, Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid were among the recipients of the IBR Award.
Al-Jeffery also stated that to further cope with any kind of future challenges, the group was also diversifying its business.
On allowing foreign manufacturers to build their plants here, he said the issue had its benefits and drawbacks.
He pointed that the Naza Group has always been recognised as a leading Bumiputera company in franchise assembly.
"We are not afraid of competition in the sense that, what we have delivered over the years, is a testimony to our ability to survive.
"I guess if you are not adaptive to changes like the foreign manufacturers coming in and such, then it would not be a progressive situation for us," he stressed.
He also pointed out that the group did welcome the foreign manufacturers and most of them coming to Malaysia, were aware of Naza's contribution to the automotive industry.
According to Al-Jeffery, most of the manufacturers did seek advise from or a partnership with Naza.
Under the NAP review, the approved permit (AP) system would be scrapped in 2015 for open AP's and in 2020 for franchise AP's.Import duties on completely built-up cars and that for completely knocked-down, would be maintained.
On the scrapping of the AP, Al-Jeffery said: "On our part, we are still having a dialogue with the government on the matter.
"The AP itself is basically a controlled and conducive environment, meant to encourage Bumiputera enterpreneurs like Naza to grow. Knowing that the AP will be abolished, we have prepared ourselves for it." - Bernama