NY asset management firm acquires 10-store Pittsburgh dealer group


Another large dealership group in Pittsburgh is going through a change in ownership.

A little more than a month after Lithia Motors expanded its operations by securing Baierl Auto Group, GPB Capital announced on Monday that the New York-based asset management firm has acquired a majority stake in Kenny Ross Automotive Group, which operates 10 dealerships in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.

GPB Capital purchased the majority ownership as part of a recapitalization of nine of Kenny Ross Automotive Group’s dealerships. Terms of the deal, which closed on June 27, were not disclosed.

“Kenny Ross Automotive Group has a meaningful history and solid reputation in Pittsburgh, and their successful dealerships serve as the ideal platform for us to grow our industry presence in western Pennsylvania,” said Manuel Frederico Vianna, managing partner with GPB Capital.

“The franchised auto dealer industry was the largest retail business in the U.S. in 2016, and we are eager to begin working with the Ross family to maximize the potential of these franchises,” Vianna continued in a news release.

The Kenny Ross Automotive Group portfolio includes franchises representing Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.

“Our family has been privileged to serve our friends and neighbors in Pittsburgh for more than 60 years, and we look forward to working closely with GPB Capital to achieve our long-term goals as we enter the next phase of our growth,” said Jimmy Ross, chairman of Kenny Ross Automotive Group.

“GPB Capital is a natural partner for us because their team shares our commitment to our customers, our business, and meeting the needs of local customers and families,” Ross added.

Jeff Lash, Brian Marshall, Brian Brown and Stephen Jones of GPB Capital led the transaction on behalf of the firm. The Presidio Group provided M&A advisory services to Kenny Ross Automotive Group through its wholly owned investment bank, Presidio Merchant Partners.

Jimmy Ross has led the company his father founded in 1954 through 16 dealership acquisitions, and has accumulated more than 40 years of automotive retail experience in the Pittsburgh market.

“We look to partner with proven portfolio companies in order to provide capital and management expertise that enable them to achieve the next level of growth and profitability," said David Gentile, founder and chief executive officer of GPB Capital.

“We focus on income-producing private equity, and Kenny Ross Automotive Group’s proven management team and successful track record are great examples of the key acquisition criteria we look for in every deal that we pursue,” Gentile went on to say.

Lithia’s move was of a similar scale as Baierl operated Acura, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Kia, Subaru and Toyota franchises.

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