Thursday, 14 November 2013 22:13

WSJ: Caliber Collision to be Sold to Private Equity

The owners of Caliber Bodyworks Inc., DBA Caliber Collision Centers, have put the chain of 157 US body shops up for sale, said sources to the Wall St. Journal. Interested buyers include private-equity firms such as Berkshire Partners LLC and Blackstone Group LP. The WSJ story said the sales process was almost over and new owners would be announced soon.

Caliber, which is owned by a unit of Canadian buyout firm Onex Corp. and others, has attracted interest from other private-equity firms, including Blackstone Group LP and Berkshire Partners LLC in the past. Its most recent shop acquisition was nine Global Collision locations in Denver, CO.

Caliber Collision Centers, owns about 150 body shops in California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma. An active consolidator, Caliber routinely solicits collision repair shop owners in news releases announcing its acquisitions. Caliber recently acquired four Houston-area body shops. In late September, it added 12 locations in the Sacramento, CA market. In June, the company bought three shops around Denver.

Onex acquired Caliber in 2008, buying the Lewisville, Texas-based chain from another group of investors for about $170 million. Caliber is likely to fetch more than $500 million in a sale, one of the sources said.

At a Sherwin-Williams A-Plus Vison Group event last December, Rex Green of BB&T Capital characterized the collision industry as a “star perfomer” in the investment world over the last few years, opening the eyes of Wall Street and large equity groups. A couple reasons for that, he said, was an increase in miles driven and new cars sold. He also called the broader automotive aftermarket an “absolute winner” from an investor standpoint over the last 10 years. 

The sales process was nearing completion and Caliber could announce its new owners soon, they said. It remained unclear who might emerge victorious in the auction – or whether a deal will ultimately materialize – but one of the people said Blackstone isn’t likely to end up buying the company.

There has been a flurry of auto-repair shop deal activity lately, including Advance Auto Parts Inc.’s October agreement to buy General Parts International Inc. for just over $2 billion. The takeover would create one of North America’s largest aftermarket auto-parts providers. Sears Holding Corp. recently said it’s considering spinning of its Sears Auto Center business, which provides vehicle-repair and other services.

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