Cliff Banks - The Banks Report

Relative Unknown Makes Big Play in UK

June 25, 2023 — A surprise announcement last week as The Alpha Auto Group (a Canadian-based with stores in the US) has made a bid to acquire the UK-based Lookers group for $596 million (£465mn).

A few months ago, we heard that a Canadian group was looking at the British market but assumed it was Auto Canada, a publicly traded group in Canada. 

But the relatively unknown Global Auto Holdings, backed by the Alpha Auto Group, made the play. It registered in the UK in December 2022. 

Headquartered in Canada, AAG entered the US market in 2018, acquiring Toyota and Subaru dealerships in Wilsonville, OR. 

Last November, AAG acquired Scott Biehl’s Mercedes Benz of Fresno, CA (The Presidio Group advised on the transaction). 

AAG also acquired Audi Great Neck and Biener Ford in New York.

AAG Chairman Kuldeep Billan was appointed CEO of Augyva Mining Resources in 2014. The company pivoted in 2017 to automotive, changing its name to Automotive Finco Corp. According to a 2017 investor presentation, Billan established AFFC to provide long-term debt financing to dealers such as AAG, which he started in 2014. AAG acquired 10 stores from the Mierins group in May 2018. 

The Lookers purchase is a big deal for Billan, who is becoming a big player in the automotive retail space on the international stage.

Earlier this year, the US-based Lithia Motors acquired the British Jardine Motors Group, a 50-location dealership. Other US groups with dealerships in the UK include Group 1 Automotive, with more than 80 locations, and the Penske Automotive Group, with about 140 locations, including three BMW stores acquired in 2022. 

(For more on the UK market and AAG’s bid to acquire Lookers, check out James Baggott’s articles in Car Dealer Magazine). 

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