May 2015 Dealership Buy-Sells Report

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June 7, 2015 — May was a monster month for dealership acquisitions setting a monthly record for number of transactions since January 2013. Notable deals included Group 1 Automotive, Lithia Motors, Bill Jacobs, Tom Durant and Euro Motor Cars, Victory Automotive and AutoNation.

At least 33 transactions accounted for 41 dealerships changing owners in May, according to data compiled by The Banks Report. Through the first week of June, 227 dealerships have changed hands setting a pace that would swamp 2014’s record 324.

(For a list of acquisitions this year, click: 2015_Dealer_Buy_Sell_May_15_TBR).

Of course, this year’s number is a bit skewered with Berkshire Hathaway’s acquisition of the Van Tuyl Group’s 81 stores. Without that deal, the industry would be slightly off last year’s pace by 33 stores.

However, it’s not a stretch to think Berkshire may pull off another big deal this year. There’s been increased chatter recently that a significant deal could be close including one source telling us a deal has already been agreed to. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, we know of at least five other deals that are reportedly close to being completed. One is the Manfredi Automotive Group that has 10 stores selling 12 brands in Staten Island. We heard from sources in late February that a deal for nine of the 10 stores was close.

Then Joe Manfredi, the owner, died in late March, but according to media reports in New York in late April, the deal was still on to sell to another dealer in New York.

Another development last week, however, may delay a deal. New York’s attorney general is investigating whether Manfredi sold credit repair services to more than 1,500 customers using third party vendor CFI (Credit Forget, Inc.).

Also in the Northeast, we know of two separate transactions involving an Audi store and BMW store that may close soon.

 

Notable transactions that occurred in May include:

1. Jim Hudson Automotive Group acquired Group 1 Automotive’s Audi store in Columbia, SC. Group 1 recently acquired two Audi stores — one in Dallas and one in Miami and apparently part of the deal with Audi was that they had to sell one. They now own three in the U.S.

It’s interesting to note that Hudson, who is in South Carolina, had not been an Audi dealer previously. But Hudson was on Audi’s list.

We hear that Audi has a list — that no one outside of the manufacturer has seen — of dealers that are “approved.” Audi will go to great lengths to stop deals from happening if they do not approve of the buying dealer.

2. A second notable transaction had Lithia Motors selling its Honda Midland, TX store to Tom Durant and Classic. It’s been renamed Classic Honda of Midland and Joey Gabarda, a long time Classic Chevrolet manager, is listed as the dealer operator. (Look for Classic to make another couple of acquisitions soon).

When we broke the story on Father’s Day 2014 that Lithia was acquiring the DCH group, we also predicted that Lithia probably would end up having to sell some stores as part of the negotiation process with the manufacturers.

The Midland sale along with the sale of its Honda store in Pocatello, ID were part of the agreement in which Honda agreed to let Lithia acquire DCH’s Honda franchises.

3. Meanwhile, in Joliet, IL, Linda Jacobs sold four of her stores (Bill Jacobs, her husband died about four years ago) to John Crane and the Hawk Auto Group. She sold her Kia store to Scott Falcone.

4. Jeff Cappo and the Victory Automotive Group remain busy buying a Toyota Scion store in Hanford, CA and Chevrolet and Chrysler stores in Healdsburg, CA.

5. Also notable is Michael Cantanucci’s (New Country Motor Group) acquisition of Euro Motor Cars six stores in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Financially, it had to be a monster because it included three Mercedes, an Audi and one BMW store. (Read more here.)

6. AutoNation also made an acquisition in early May, picking up Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo franchises in Spokane, WA.

 

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Cliff-BanksAbout The Banks Report:

Designed for top automotive executives, dealers, industry analysts and investors who want to cut through the noise and get an accurate picture of what’s going on in the Automotive Retail space, the Banks Report is an online source that provides subscribers with daily insight into the top news stories of the day.

The Banks Report was created by Cliff Banks, an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years in the automotive retail space. As an editor of two automotive-related media companies, he built a vast network of sources ranging from CEOs to service technicians at the dealership. There’s no one better at connecting the dots and putting the news into perspective.