Cliff Banks - The Banks Report

Lithia Motors to Acquire Downtown LA Motors

August 7, 2017 — UPDATE BELOW — Sources confirm Lithia Motors is nearing completion of its pending acquisition of the Downtown LA Auto Group from the Shammas Group, its second large acquisition this year. The deal is likely to close as early as this week.

In May, Lithia acquired six of the Baierl Group dealerships in the Pittsburgh selling Acura, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Kia, Subaru and Toyota vehicles.

Nick and Jeanette Shammas started the group in 1955 when it acquired Felix Chevrolet at the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Figueroa Street. Over the years, the area declined causing General Motors to push the Shammas’ to move to a better location. They demurred, and instead, bought several acres near the Felix Chevrolet store, building a thriving commercial property company. It was the right call. As the couple added dealerships along that stretch of the 10 Freeway, other dealerships also sprouted up creating an “auto row” of dealerships which helped lead to a rebound of south downtown Los Angeles. Today, the Los Angeles-based group, includes six locations selling nine brands.

The stores include:

  • Felix Chevrolet
  • Porsche Downtown LA
  • Audi Downtown LA
  • Volkswagen Downtown LA
  • Downtown LA Motors Mercedes Benz
  • Downtown LA Motors Sprinter
  • Downtown LA Nissan
  • Toyota Downtown LA
  • Carson Nissan
Darryl Holter, the Shammas’ son-in-law, took over as CEO after his father-in-law died in 2003. Jeanette Shammas, who took over as president, and who continued working into her 90s, passed away in 2014.
Lithia, meanwhile, continues not only making the right calls on acquisitions, but also growing the stores they acquire. It just reported record-breaking second quarter earnings of $2.28 per share (for the 27th consecutive quarter) beating Wall Street projections on revenue and earnings. It’s stock price is hovering above the $100 mark.

Expect the group to continue aggressively buying dealerships. It’s armed with cash after raising nearly $300 million last month selling 5.25% senior notes due in 2025. Lithia also has an additional estimated $408 million total liquidity.

UPDATE:

Lithia announced on Tuesday it did complete the Downtown LA acquisition. The Shammas group is keeping Felix Chevrolet, however. The purchase will add more than $1 billion to Lithia’s annual revenue. Kerrigan Advisors represented Downtown LA in the sale, bringing their total of dealerships sold to 59 since July 2015, with four of the top 100 dealer groups.

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