Akerman represented the Grossinger family in selling its Illinois-based auto dealerships, the 90-year-old Grossinger Auto Group, which grew to $401 million in 2017 revenue.
Grossinger Auto Group sold 15 stores — nine franchises in the Chicago area and six dealerships in an auto mall near Bloomington, Illinois — to AutoCanada, a publicly traded Canadian-based auto retailer.
Akerman declined to disclose the deal value. But the Chicago Tribune reported the sale was valued at $86 million for 14 dealerships.
Akerman corporate practice group co-chair Jonathan Awner, automotive retail practice chair Scott Wasserman and partner Brenda Goerks, all based in Miami, worked on the deal with Chicago-based partner David Blum. The transaction closed April 9.
Siblings Caroline and Gary Grossinger were the third generation Grossingers to run the family business started by their grandfather Sam Grossinger in the early 1900s. The company became the oldest family-run dealership business in Illinois, according to its website.
AutoCanada will keep the Grossinger name on the stores while taking over the brick-and-mortar stores and the grossinger.com website.
The Grossinger name is recognized in the Midwest, and the Grossingers wanted to sell to a buyer that would maintain their values, Blum said.
“They were not looking to just sell. They were looking to find the right buyer and a buyer that would continue their goals of maintaining strong employee relations,” he said.
Edmonton, Alberta-based AutoCanada will keep the leadership and staff at the stores, according to a news release.
Grossinger Auto Group has more than 700 employees, according to its website.
Like other high-value transactions, this one wasn’t devoid of obstacles. The sale and buyer had to be approved by the the 12 brands that sell through Grossinger, according to Blum. The brands are Audi, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Honda, Hyundai, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo and Kia.
“We had to get everyone lined up and satisfy all the requirements for approval at the same time,” Wasserman said.
The sale speaks to a broader national trend of consolidation in the auto industry with bigger businesses absorbing smaller ones, Wasserman said.
“This transaction … mirrors that trend nationally,” he said. At some of “the smaller individually and family-owned stores, we are seeing a lot of trends toward the sale of those stores to larger companies and larger groups, whether they be private or public groups. The industry is consolidating.”
It’s unique, however, for an international buyer to enter the U.S. market, he added.
This was the largest acquisition to date of U.S. dealerships by a foreign buyer, according to a news release.