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Vertu Motors buys Greenoaks Mercedes-Benz car dealerships in £22m deal

Mercedes star emblem

Vertu Motors has acquired its first Mercedes-Benz franchises, exactly five months after it bought Audi businesses.

Having spent the first five years since its 2007 creation as a buy-and-build mainstream brand specialist, the past three years have seen Vertu grow rapidly in the premium market, gaining franchises for Volvo, Infiniti, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi and now Mercedes-Benz.

This latest deal, for £21.9m total consideration, sees it take over Sigma Holdings, which through its subsidiary Greenoaks operates Mercedes-Benz dealerships in Reading, Ascot and Slough, with the Reading and Ascot outlets also representing the Smart franchise and Ascot also being a Mercedes-AMG performance car centre.

Companies House shows Sigma Holdings owners included Hugh Peters and David Thomas, both in their 70s, plus Iranian businessman and investor Mahmoud Khayami until he resigned as a director in December 2015.

All three operations are on freehold properties in attractive motor retail locations, said Vertu, and the business, which achieved £88m sales and £2.4m EBITDA in 2015, is expected to boost Vertu’s earnings in its first full year of ownership.

The cash consideration of £21.9m includes an initial £18.4m from Vertu’s cash resources and borrowing facilities, to be followed by a further £3.5m deferred for 12 months. The total includes £13m goodwill.

Vertu Motors chief executive Robert Forrester said: "We are delighted to announce the introduction of Mercedes-Benz to the Group, which is a significant further step in the growth of our premium business."

"The Greenoaks business has operated in the Thames Valley for over 30 years, is well established in this attractive market area and brings three high quality freehold properties which will further strengthen the group's asset base."

"The acquisition will be earnings enhancing from our new financial year and will also provide synergy opportunities with the group's fleet and internet-based sales operations."

Forrester told AM Vertu's addition of Mercedes-Benz businesses had come sooner than he had expected. “The number of Mercedes-Benz market areas that come to the market is extremely limited. Mercedes made us aware of the opportunity and we put our best foot forward because we think this is a good business, one we think we can improve the results of, and from a geographical and demographical point of view Reading, Ascot and Slough was a good area potentially for Mercedes-Benz.”

There was a competitive process for the business.

A spokesman at Mercedes-Benz UK added: "Mercedes-Benz is delighted to welcome Vertu as a new franchise partner.  As a top five dealer group, we have been working with Vertu to identify a suitable opportunity that allows them to bring their expertise in retailing to our brand.

“Having doubled our new car volume in the last five years, Vertu are a strong fit to further support our continued growth strategy."

Paul Daly, automotive partner at UHY Hacker Young, represented Vertu in the transaction. He said: "The Greenoaks Mercedes market area is a great acquisition for Vertu, expanding its presence in the Thames Valley with a fantastic new brand partner in Mercedes Benz.

"Having recently acquired Audi representation, and already having a significant Jaguar and Land Rover presence, it must surely only be a matter of time before BMW join its premium brand portfolio."

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