Group 1 Set to Buy More Import Stores

Dealership chain Group 1 Automotive Inc.'s realty subsidiary amended a $75 million 5-year revolving mortgage facility, expanding it to $235 million.

Dealership chain Group 1 Automotive Inc.'s realty subsidiary amended a $75 million 5-year revolving mortgage facility, expanding it to $235 million.

The move is intended to provide reasonably priced capital to Group 1 to acquire real estate and buildings for dealership acquisitions and the exercise of selective lease buyout options.

Lenders in the syndicated facility include three manufacturer-affiliated finance companies — BMW Financial Services North America LLC; Toyota Motor Credit Corp. and Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp. — as well as six commercial banks.

“The addition of the syndicate members, with the commitments they have made, validates the strength of our relationships with the lending community and their belief in Group 1's operations,” says Earl J. Hesterberg, Group 1's president and chief executive officer.

Houston-based Group 1 is No. 5 on the Ward's Megadealer 100 with 105 dealerships.

It has been increasing its holdings of import and luxury stores while reducing the number of domestic-brand dealerships. Import and luxury stores accounted for 62% of Group 1's portfolio in 2005. That rose to 70% in 2006. It is expected to go up to 80% this year.

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