Bidding war for car retailer accelerates as second £447m offer tabled

Pendragon, the Nottingham-based car retail giant behind the Evans Halshaw and Strastone brands, is the subject of a third huge takeover bid.

The 32p-per-share offer from AutoNation matches the £447m joint bid from Hedin Mobility Group, the largest shareholder in Pendragon, and PAG International which was posted last Friday.

AutoNation is a NYSE-listed firm which has 300 outlets and turns over around £20bn a year. It is headed by British-born Mike Manley, once the boss of Fiat Chrysler.

A statement from Pendragon said: “The AutoNation proposal remains subject to a number of pre-conditions, including the completion of due diligence.

“The board will consider the AutoNation Proposal and will consult with its shareholders and provide an update in due course.

“There can be no certainty that any firm offer will be made, nor to the terms of any such offer. Shareholders are advised to take no action at this time.”

Pendragon is also the subject of bid from Lithia UK Holding Limited, a subsidiary of Lithia Motors.

Pendragon and Lithia Motors have also agreed the terms of a strategic partnership with Lithia, including the rollout of Pinewood, the company’s dealer management software (DMS) business, to Lithia’s existing 50 UK sites and the creation of a joint venture to accelerate Pinewood’s entry into the North American DMS market.

Under the terms of the deal stakeholders would receive around 27.4p per share.

Separately, the cr retailer has also released its half-year figures, with pre-tax profits up 11% to £36.4m. Revenues increased 13% to £2.1bn in the six months to June.

Pendragon’s chief executive Bill Berman said: “We delivered strong volume growth for both new and used vehicles during the period, while a robust operational performance supported healthy margins in our UK motor division.”

The company said it was “mindful” of the potential impact of higher interest rates and inflation on consumer sentiment and disposable incomes.