The owner of Malaysian national carmaker Proton says it has shortlisted five foreign partners for a partnership that includes an equity sale aimed at reviving the loss-making company.

Syed Faisal Albar Syed Ali Rethza Albar, managing director of conglomerate DRB-Hicom, says it will remain a "substantial" shareholder of Proton but doesn't rule out selling a majority stake.

DRB-Hicom took over Proton from the government in 2012, but has failed to resuscitate the carmaker. The government gave Proton a 1.25 billion ringgit ($312 million) loan earlier this year on condition that it seeks a strategic partner.

Syed Faisal said Wednesday that Proton received many proposals but has "nailed down five." He declined to name the five bidders but said the aim is to seal a deal by middle of next year.