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OPTIMUS Group, via Optimus Group Australia, has completed its share purchase of Autocare Services Pty Ltd and, as of May 1, now owns 100 per cent of the leading auto logistics specialist.

In announcing the completion of the acquisition Optimus Group revealed in its Tokyo Stock Exchange filing how it plans to integrate Autocare with its other recently purchased Australian assets.   

The Optimus Group, a global automotive investment company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, announced in February that it had entered into an agreement to acquire 100 per cent of the shares of the Autocare Services business from LINX Cargo Care Group.

The Group has automotive sector investments in Japan, Australia and New Zealand covering trading, logistics, inspection, and services as well as automotive data offerings to industry and new and used vehicle retailing.

The purchase price was $44 million for 75,505 shares.

Autocare Services has been one of Australia’s largest integrated logistics providers to the automotive industry for more than 60 years. 

The company, with 600 employees at the time, was placed into voluntary administration in February 2021 due to trading pressures experienced as auto production shortages meant fewer cars arriving through its docks and onwards to dealerships. It was removed from administration by July 2021. 

Negotiations to acquire Autocare began last October

The closing of the deal follows a steady stream of purchases and investments by Optimus Group Australia (OPTAU).  

The Autocare purchase follows hard on the heels of the acquisition of Garry Crick’s Autopact Group, one of Australia’s largest privately-owned automotive dealership groups with 28 dealerships, 35 franchises and 100 dealer agreements (because sites are multi franchise).

Optimus plans to add more dealerships to Autopact as the opportunities arise.

Within Australia, Optimus also has a 30 per cent stake in used car retailer Ozcar which has 20 sites and a 60 per cent stake in the Melbourne-based Blue Flag automotive data services business.

Optimus has a 100 per cent stake in Dolphin Shipping which has about 35 per cent market share of the used car trade from Japan to Australia doing 500 to 900 cars a month into Australia. 

It also has a 30 per cent stake in Car Empire, which is a warehouse-style used car operation located on the Gold Coast that deals only in imports.

Optimus also recently announced the acquisition of a controlling interest in the digital online automotive sales platform, AutoTrader New Zealand. 

The announcement to the Tokyo stock exchange also detailed the way Optimus sees Autocare Services fitting into these acquisitions.

Stating “reasons and purpose for the share acquisition” Optimus Group said it is committed to “building the Australian Model since Australia is regarded as a strategic country in Optimus Group’s business plan. 

“Optimus Group had been working to expand its business domain in Australia, building and strengthening a value chain suited to the market.

This includes “making a major car dealer Autopact Pty Ltd our consolidated subsidiary company through acquisition of shares (and) OPTAU entering into a joint venture agreement with an Australian entity to establish AutoSolix Pty Ltd (“AutoSolix”) as an import vehicle compliance and registration company as announced in April 2024, and the establishment of VITA Australia Pty Ltd (“VITA”) in charge of inspecting imported vehicles also announced in April 2024.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange report said: “As Australia is an import-only vehicle market, considering Australia’s vast national territory, vehicle logistics plays an essential role in the automotive industry. Autocare, founded over 60 years ago with its head office located in Melbourne, is one of Australia’s largest integrated automotive logistics providers. The statement said: “Autocare is based in all major ports in Australia with its strategic operations, providing transportation and storage services for imported vehicles including those from major OEMs, after their arrivals at the ports.

“In addition to these services, Autocare also provides a wide range of services such as warehousing, cleaning, quarantine, customs clearance, pre-delivery maintenance works to those new vehicles headed to automotive dealerships throughout Australia.

“By the completion of this acquisition, OPTAU making Autocare its consolidated subsidiary company, Optimus Group will expand its business and build a strong value chain suitable for the Australian market.

“This enables collaboration with a major car dealer Autopact Pty Ltd and Optimus Group’s existing business such as logistics service for used vehicle imports and sales. 

“Operational-wise, the flow from Autocare doing the processing for imported vehicles at their bases, AutoSolix doing the registration procedures, VITA doing the inspection (to establish) whether the vehicles are in compliance with the state regulations, and finally Autocare taking the role as a vehicle transporter throughout Australia will contribute to the optimisation of Optimus Group’s vehicle import/logistic process in Australia and maximise the synergy with Autocare. 

“Optimus Group will also deliver innovative solutions in order to meet the evolving needs of the automotive industry within Australia aiming for long-term value creation and business growth.”

Footnote: Autocare’s bright red and yellow car transporters are a familiar sight delivering vehicles to dealerships across Australia. 

Apart from vehicle transport, Autocare provides vehicle storage and import processing for some of Australia’s largest OEMs, automotive dealerships, rental and fleet providers and other customers across the entire automotive industry.

Autocare Services also provides ancillary services to the industry covering quarantine services including transport, cleaning and compliance, along with freight forwarding and customs broking, new vehicle pre-delivery and accessory fitments and numerous dealer services for the delivery of new vehicles to retail and fleet customers across Australia.

Optimus Group said in April that the purchase was part of its diversification strategy and was a significant milestone for the Group as it swings its focus away from used car imports.

By John Mellor

AdTorque Edge