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Malaysia to Decide on Proton Partner in Three Months

Malaysia will decide on a partner for its loss-making national carmaker Proton Holdings within the next three months after talks with Germany's Volkswagen fell through, a government minister said on Friday.

"Even though Volkswagen is no longer interested, we have to look for others," Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop told reporters at a function at Bangi, just outside the Malaysian capital.

Nor Mohamed declined to say whom the government was talking to, but added that it had to move fast to find a partner for state-controlled Proton. "It should take no more than a few months," he said.

Asked if a decision on Proton's partner could be made within the next three months, he said, "Certainly."

Nor Mohamed reiterated that there would not be any bailout for Proton, which reported a fourth straight quarterly loss on Thursday, as sales continued to slide.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said on Thursday that talks for European car maker Volkswagen to buy a stake in Proton had fallen through, and Proton would talk to other parties.

The government had said early this year it was talking to several carmakers, including Volkswagen and U.S. giant General Motors, about a possible partnership with Proton, but it missed an end-March deadline to announce a deal.

Proton, which faces a shrinking market share in an increasingly competitive domestic market, wants to tie up with a global carmaker to boost its sales and turn itself around.

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