McLarty Auto Group Forms Joint Venture With Asbury Automotive
7 August 1998McLarty 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."