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PENSKE Automotive Group (PAG), one of America’s largest dealer groups, has purchased two Porsche dealerships and a Ducati dealership in Melbourne in what appears to be a first step into further automotive dealer ownership in Australia.

Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, PAG is a Fortune 500 company with a market capitalisation of $US10 billion (A$15 billion). It employs 28,000 people worldwide.  PAG operates dealerships in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Japan and is one of the largest retailers of commercial trucks in North America for Freightliner.

The company said in a statement to the New York exchange that it has signed an agreement to acquire Porsche Centre Brighton, Porsche Centre Doncaster and Ducati at Essendon Fields.  

It said: “The Brighton dealership, which is located approximately 20 minutes from central Melbourne, opened in March 2009 and has been serving the Porsche community in Melbourne for nearly 15 years. The Doncaster dealership is the newest official Porsche Centre located in the high-growth northeast Melbourne suburbs.”  

Porsche Centre Brighton

Porsche has 14 Porsche Centres in Australia.

The dealerships were purchased from the Preston Motors Group. 

GoAutoNews Premium has been told that these dealerships are now the last to be divested by Preston Motors which in recent years has been steadily selling off its retail businesses. This occurred in the wake of division within the Auswild family owners of PMG that went all the way to the High Court. 

The Porsche/Ducati sale to Penske Automotive Group was assisted by the automotive group within HWL Ebsworth lawyers. 

PAG is a diversified international transportation services company and one of the world’s premier automotive and commercial truck retailers with operations across four continents and nine countries. 

In an announcement made to the NYSE the company said it intends to “expand its retail automotive operations into Australia” by acquiring the two Porsche dealerships along with the Ducati motorcycle dealership in Melbourne.

Porsche Centre Doncaster

Penske has been operating in Australia and New Zealand for about a decade through leading on- and off-highway businesses, including Penske Australia, Penske New Zealand, and Penske Truck Rental. 

In Australasia it distributes commercial vehicles from Western Star Trucks, MAN Truck & Bus, and Dennis Eagle, as well as diesel engines, petrol engines, and power systems from mtu, Detroit, Allison Transmission (AU only), DEUTZ, and Sauer Compressors (AU only) with related parts and service support. 

It also offers extensive truck rental and leasing services.

The move into auto retail by the Penske interests has the potential to heat up the Australian dealership acquisition market by providing competition to the likes of Eagers Automotive and other aspiring dealer groups that are on the acquisition trail in Australia as many dealership families who built up their brand portfolios from the 1960s seek an exit from the industry.

If PAG’s purchase of UK dealerships over the past two decades is anything to go by, Roger Penske is showing a strong appetite for dealerships in markets like Australia.

Ducati West Melbourne, Essendon Fields

For example, PAG bought the UK’s Sytner Group in 2002 for $A200 million. These days Sytner employs almost 10,000 people across 150 plus dealerships and showcases 23 brands.

Sytner Group, including CarShop and the Agnew Group, is one of the largest automotive retailers in the United Kingdom representing some of the world’s most luxurious brands. Sytner Group and CarShop operate solely in the UK with Agnew Group operating in Northern Ireland. 

Brands include Alpina, AMG, Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, BMW Motorrad, Bugatti, Ferrari, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lamborghini, Maserati, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Pagani, Porsche, Rolls Royce, SEAT, Skoda, Smart, Volkswagen and Volvo. 

Roger Penske

Last year PAG and an associate financier went into battle to take over Pentagon which has 160 retail locations across the UK, most of which are new-vehicle dealerships. It was up against bidding from US retailer Lithia Motors and another from AutoNation. Lithia won that battle with a price tag of $A760 million.

But that did not stop PAG. Earlier this year the Penske Automotive Group said it completed its acquisition of the Rybrook Group in the UK with 15 premium-brand dealerships that generate about $A1.5 billion in annual revenue.

Commenting on the Melbourne acquisition, Penske Automotive Group head of international operations Randall Seymore said: “We are delighted to announce this transaction and expand our partnership with the Porsche brand. 

Randall Seymore, COO, Penske Automotive Group

“For over ten years we have strategically built a diverse commercial vehicle and power systems business that operates across Australia and New Zealand based on our commitment to strong customer service.  

“With this acquisition we will leverage that existing infrastructure and our significant experience in the retail automotive industry to drive growth of the Porsche brand in Melbourne by building a relationship with Porsche enthusiasts through a focus on the customer experience.”        

The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2024, subject to customary conditions.

By John Mellor

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