The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

McLarty Auto Group Forms Joint Venture With Asbury Automotive

7 August 1998

McLarty Auto Group Forms Joint Venture With Asbury Automotive
    PHILADELPHIA, and LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Aug. 6 -- The McLarty
Automotive Group ("McLarty") of Little Rock, Arkansas and Asbury Automotive
Group ("Asbury") of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania announce the signing of a joint
venture agreement.  Under the new partnership, the McLarty family and their
five dealer partners will continue to operate and maintain ownership in all
McLarty Automotive Group dealerships.  In addition, Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty
III will provide certain consulting and advisory services to the Asbury
holding company in Philadelphia.
    The McLarty Group owns and operates 19 automobile dealerships franchises
in Arkansas and Texas.  Based on total sales, the company ranks among the top
50 dealer groups in the United States with annual revenues of approximately
$400 million and retail sales of over 15,000 new and pre-owned vehicles.
Asbury, a dealership network with approximately $3 billion in revenues, owns
and operates one of the nation's largest groups to retail, lease, service and
finance new and pre-owned cars and trucks.  Asbury is a portfolio investment
of Ripplewood Partners and Freeman Spogli & Co.  Ripplewood and Freeman have
also formed Millbourne Equity Trust to invest in automotive retail related
real estate.
    Tom Gibson, president of Asbury Automotive Group, said, "McLarty is an
outstanding organization with exceptional dealerships in a region that bridges
key markets in the Southwest and Southeast.  The McLarty name represents 77
years of commitment to customers, loyalty to employees, and award-winning
professional service.  The Group and its dealers are highly respected by the
community and the auto manufacturers."
    "This partnership preserves our commitment to customers and maintains our
core company values.  Through years of working together with our partners
Gerry Riser, Jack Caldwell, Bill Smith, Todd Shores, Woods Wright and Steve
Humphries, we have built a successful organization.  Our joint venture with
Asbury brings the benefits of a national network to our team while keeping us
well-positioned in the auto industry," said Mac McLarty, chairman and CEO of
the new joint venture.  Mr. McLarty recently returned to the family business
after serving five years as White House Chief of Staff, Counselor to the
President, and Special Envoy of the Americas.
    The McLarty Group developed from the Hope Auto Company, established in
1921.  The business expanded under the leadership of Mack's father, Frank
McLarty, who was also a pioneer in the U.S. truck leasing industry.  Today the
dealership group includes North Point Ford Lincoln-Mercury, North Point Mazda
Volkswagen, and Prestige Toyota BMW in North Little Rock; Premier Pontiac
Nissan Lincoln-Mercury in Little Rock; McLarty Ford Chrysler Plymouth Dodge in
Texarkana, Texas; and Hope Ford Lincoln-Mercury Chrysler Plymouth Dodge Jeep
in Hope.
    "Partnering with Asbury provides access to substantial operational and
financial resources," said Mark McLarty, who returned as a fourth generation
in the family business after working at J.P. Morgan & Company in New York.
"This presents a major opportunity to enhance and expand our business."
    Asbury Automotive is led by Tom Gibson, a former Ford and Chrysler
executive; and former president of Subaru of America.  Asbury has invested in
a network of leading dealerships throughout the country.  Their joint venture
partners include the David McDavid Auto Group of Dallas, Houston, and Austin,
Texas; The Nalley Companies of Atlanta, Georgia; The Plaza Motor Company of
St. Louis, Missouri; Coggin Automotive Group of Jacksonville, Ft. Pierce and
Orlando, Florida; Courtesy Group of Tampa, Florida; Thomason Auto Group of
Portland, Oregon; and Crown Automotive Company of Greensboro, Raleigh, and
Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Richmond, Virginia.
    "We are pleased to be part of a quality organization with a sound
strategic vision.  This combination allows us to change with the times without
forsaking our roots," Mack McLarty said.  "We look forward to serving our
customers for a long, long time."