Amid the confusion of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. auto retailers are pushing off expenses such as dealership purchases to the second half of the year. Asbury Automotive Group Inc. didn’t have the luxury of postponing what would have been its largest acquisition ever and one of the industry’s largest deals in a decade.
For the Duluth, Ga., dealership group, which on March 24 terminated its planned $1 billion acquisition of most of Park Place Dealerships in Texas, the cancellation came down to time constraints related to the deal’s financing arrangements.
“The last thing I wanted to do was cancel that deal,” Asbury CEO David Hult told Automotive News on Friday. “We would have prolonged the closing and finished the deal at some point. But it wasn’t a traditional buy-sell situation.”
The largest piece of financing for buying Park Place came from a $525 million bond that required the deal to be completed before April 30, according to Asbury officials.
A variety of private backers,…