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Lotus sacks CEO

Dismissed opportunity: Dany Bahar oversaw a turbulent period in Group Lotus history.

Dany Bahar fired by Group Lotus after investigation into his behaviour

Lotus logo8 Jun 2012

By DAVID HASSALL

LOTUS today announced it had sacked chief executive officer Dany Bahar with immediate effect, just two weeks after standing him down pending “an investigation into a complaint about his behaviour”.

The unspecified complaint had been filed by Malaysian parent company DRB-Hicom, which inherited the troubled Norwich-based sportscar-maker as part of its takeover of Proton earlier this year.

British media reports have suggested that the investigation involved expenses claims relating to Mr Bahar’s personal homes and that his employer had confiscated his mobile phone and laptop computer as part of its inquiry.

Group Lotus announced the sacking via an email statement, but neither the company nor DRB-Hicom has posted anything on their official websites.

“The decision was made by the board of Group Lotus plc following the results of an investigation into a complaint made against him by the company’s penultimate holding company, DRB-Hicom Berhad,” said the statement.

 center imageAslam Farikullah (left), one of three DRB-Hicom executives who ran Lotus in Mr Bahar’s absence, has been appointed chief operating officer.

The 51-year-old is an engineering graduate of the University of Bath and was head of vehicle engineering at DRB-Hicom in Malaysia, having been with the vehicle-assembly company since 2008.

Mr Bahar, a 50-year-old Swiss national born in Turkey, joined Lotus as CEO in 2009 after being recruited from Ferrari SpA, where he was vice-president for sales, marketing and communications from 2007 to 2009, having previously worked for the Sauber and (from 2003) Red Bull Formula One racing teams.

Respected motor sport journalist Adam Cooper said: “He did not always part on good terms with those organizations.”

Mr Bahar, who holds an MBA, initiated a five-year turnaround plan for Lotus that involved increasing sales in emerging markets such as China and launching five new models, starting with a new Esprit at the end of 2013. Five new concept cars were presented at the Paris motor show in 2010.

He was also responsible for the current sponsorship of the former Renault F1 team – which led to a legal battle with the existing Lotus team, which subsequently became Caterham – and a US Indycar program that has been the subject of ridicule due to the Lotus-supplied engine being so much slower than the opposition that the team’s cars were ordered off the track by officials after only a few laps of the blue ribbon Indianapolis 500 late last month.

DRB-Hicom said in March it may sell Lotus if it doesn’t meet performance targets, but later denied it planned to sell the operation.

In April, rumours of Mr Bahar’s impending demise prompted Lotus to issue a remarkable press release that included an attack on journalist Joe Saward and prompted further criticism of the company’s conduct.

Lotus, which employs 1200 people, has been running at a loss for a number of years and Mr Bahar said in December it would not return to profit before 2014.

DRB-Hicom group managing director Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd Khamil Jamil, who is also chairman of Lotus, said the company’s Malaysian owners remained “committed to ensure the ongoing and future business operations of the Lotus Group”.

“I look forward to bringing mutual benefits to not only DRB-Hicom and Proton Holdings Berhad but also the Lotus Group and its employees, as well as contributing to the growth of the British automotive industry,” he said in the statement announcing Mr Bahar’s dismissal.

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