An American car dealership giant has clinched a deal to buy Jardine Motors, one of Britain’s largest automotive retail groups, for more than £300m.
Sky News has learnt that Lithia Motors, which has a market capitalisation on the New York Stock Exchange of more than $6bn, hopes to announce the acquisition of Jardine as soon as Thursday.
One source said the price would be between £300m and £400m.
The deal will see Jardine Motors being sold by Jardine Matheson Holdings, the venerable Hong Kong-headquartered conglomerate.
Jardine Matheson owns assets including the Mandarin Oriental hotel chain and Hong Kong Land.
The takeover will give Lithia a substantial foothold in the UK, with access to luxury car brands including Ferrari and Maserati.
Lithia is committed to using the Jardine Motors business as a platform for growth, insiders told Sky News in January.
It would be the latest in a string of attempted deals in the sector, with Pendragon recently having ended talks about a takeover by its largest shareholder.
Lithia itself also tried to buy Pendragon last year.
Other big players in the sector include the likes of Lookers, while major online competitors such as Cazoo have suffered from the global sell-off in technology stocks.
Jardine Motors was acquired as a single East Anglia dealership by Jardine Matheson in the early 1990s.
It employs roughly 2,700 people at 50 sites across the UK, according to its website.
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Brands sold at its dealerships include Ferrari, Jaguar, McLaren and Porsche.
Lithia declined to expand on a statement issued to Sky News in January, which said: “Lithia has a stated desire to expand into the UK market and has held discussions with Jardine Matheson with a view to investing in Jardine Motors Group UK.
“Lithia views the potential acquisition of Jardine Motors as a platform for future growth in the UK and plans to invest in the business, working with Jardine Motors’ market-leading management team to build on the strong momentum the Group has generated in recent years.
“Discussions around a potential transaction are ongoing and a further update will be issued in due course.”
A Jardine Motors spokesman declined to comment.
Rothschild is advising Jardine on the talks, while Deloitte is advising Lithia.