February 28, 2015 — While not yet “official,” Berkshire Hathaway’s acquisition of the Van Tuyl Automotive Group is now completed, according to the annual shareholder letter Warren Buffett released earlier today.
There are a few details still to iron out, likely with holdings such as the off shore insurance entities owned by the Van Tuyl Group (according to sources familiar with the process), but the Berkshire Hathaway Automotive name is now on all of the manufacturer paperwork. We expect more details to filter out of Dallas in the next couple of weeks.
It’s clear the deal took longer than expected, but it was for 78 dealerships representing 25 different brands and is the largest dealership acquisition in history. Van Tuyl has stores in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Georgia and Florida. (To see a list of stores by state, click here.)
In his letter, Warren Buffett says that “We are now car guys.” The letter also reiterates what Buffett said during the October interview on CNBC in which he announced the acquisition about buying more stores and adding to the Berkshire automotive family.
We expect Berkshire could acquire as many as two more groups this year. Despite having 78 dealerships, Berkshire Hathaway Automotive is positioned well to add several luxury dealerships. The group has one BMW and one Audi store. It owns two Mercedes Benz dealerships and four Lexus stores.
Meanwhile, just looking at the landscape of dealer groups, there are several other intriguing plays Berkshire could make. There are several top groups in the Midwest — Michigan, Ohio, Illinois — these are states where the public dealer groups have stayed out of primarily. It’s not a stretch to envision a roll up of some of those groups.