Inchcape Jaguar Chester, Jul 2021Inchcape Jaguar Chester, Jul 2021


US dealer AutoNation eyeing move to pounce on Inchcape’s UK dealerships

  • Deal could be worth £350m, reported Sky News
  • If successful, deal would likely involve all of Inchcape’s 70 sites
  • Inchcape announced in January a potential sale was on the cards

Time 7:56 am, April 5, 2024

US car dealer group AutoNation is eyeing a move to pounce on Inchcape’s UK dealerships.

The business is in the early stages of considering swooping on Inchcape and is one of a number of suitors mulling over a move, reported Sky News.

If AutoNation strikes, the deal could be worth around £350m, and it would represent the firm’s first foray in to the UK after walking away from a bidding war for Pendragon six months ago.

AutoNation is a giant across the pond and has a market capitalisation of almost $7bn (£5.5bn). Latest accounts shows the Fort Lauderdale-based business posted revenues of $26.9bn (£21.3bn) last year.

In January, Inchcape confirmed it was potentially looking for a buyer for its UK operations which comprise 70 showrooms and some 3,700 employees.

It said in a London Stock Exchange announcement: ‘The board of Inchcape notes the recent press speculation in relation to our UK retail business.

‘Inchcape confirms that following approaches from a number of interested parties it is reviewing strategic options for the UK retail business, which potentially could include a sale.

‘This review is at a very early stage and there can be no certainty that it will result in a transaction.’

If AutoNation pushes ahead with a move and is successful, it would follow the similar acquisitions of UK dealer groups by across-the-pond operators such as the sales of Lookers to Global Auto Holdings and Pendragon to Lithia.

At the time of the announcement in January, David Kendrick, chief executive and corporate finance partner of chartered accountants UHY Hacker Young, told Car Dealer: ‘This is another significant move and maybe not unsurprising, having seen Inchcape sell off sites over the last few years.

‘The question now is who looks to acquire the sites? My guess is it would be the ideal group for a new international entrant.’

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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