AM Online

Second-biggest Swiss dealer bought by Belgian group

Herfina AG, the automotive retail arm of the failed Swiss importer-retailer Erb Group, has been acquired from liquidators by the Belgian group Alcopa. The buyer is taking on the group's staff and stock but not its properties, and the price has not been disclosed.

Herfina's privately-owned Erb Group parent was declared insolvent earlier this month with liabilities of €1.3 billion, representing Switzerland's biggest financial failure since the collapse of Swissair. It incorporated some 85 subsidiaries, with its original core activities centred on both new vehicle import concessions – for GM, inter alia – and the coffee trade. Some 2,500 of the Erb Group's 4,900 staff were based in Switzerland. With 30 dealerships and service garages, Herfina holds over 8% of Switzerland's new car market. Alcopa's holding company, with some 1,800 employees in 90 subsidiaries, had 2002 turnover of nearly €960m.

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