Having lost the first round in its legal battle with Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. over its planned acquisition of Joe Myers Toyota in Houston, Republic Industries Inc. is vowing to pursue further steps to acquire the dealership.
An administrative law judge last week denied Republic's request to lift a stay of its pending acquisition of the Myers store. The stay was imposed automatically when Toyota filed a petition with the Texas Department of Transportation on April 2, attempting to block Republic's acquisition of the Joe Myers dealership.
Administrative Law Judge Molly Singletary ruled the stay would remain in effect until the board makes a final ruling on Republic's proposed purchase of the store.
Said Republic President and co-CEO Steve Berrard: 'We are disappointed but not surprised by this decision. However, the process before the Texas Motor Vehicle Board is in its early stages. We believe that ultimately we will prevail in our effort to make acquisitions without regard to Toyota's arbitrary policies.'
While Republic brushed off the decision as a temporary setback, Toyota proclaimed a major victory.
'The judge's decision is a decisive victory for Texas consumers, as well as for Toyota and our dealers,' a Toyota press release said. 'By refusing to allow Republic's planned acquisition of Joe Myers Toyota to go forward unchecked, without a full hearing, the decision confirms what we've been saying all along - that the potential for injury to consumers and our business in the state outweighs any need for Republic to rapidly acquire our dealerships.'
Meanwhile, Republic bought its first dealerships in two Sun Belt markets: Las Vegas and Atlanta. Republic is buying the Desert Buick-GMC Automotive Group of Las Vegas and Gene Evans Ford of Union City, Ga., in separate transactions valued at a total of $70 million, payable in Republic common stock.
The Desert Buick-GMC Automotive Group includes three dealerships in Las Vegas, selling Volvo trucks as well as Buick and GMC vehicles.
Larry Carter, 56, CEO of Desert Buick-GMC, and Gene Evans, 51, will sign a long-term employment agreements and continue their roles at the dealerships.