After more than a year of trading lawsuits and barbed accusations, Republic Industries Inc. and American Honda Motor Co. have reached an agreement that will allow Republic to buy more Honda and Acura dealerships.
The settlement, signed Tuesday, June 9, after three months of negotiation, removes a major thorn from Republic's side. Of all the automakers, Honda was most strongly opposed to Republic's drive to become the nation's largest retail group and transform the retail landscape.
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. settled its differences with Republic last August. Nissan North America Inc. remains the lone holdout, having filed a suit in federal court in California in an attempt to block Republic.
The Honda settlement initially will allow Republic to complete acquisition of 10 Honda and two Acura stores in six states that have been held up by litigation. The companies also will drop legal actions against each other in those states, said Dick Colliver, Honda division executive vice president. Republic already owned one Acura store and four Honda stores.
Honda also will revise its dealership ownership policies. Those changes could be announced in a few weeks, Colliver said.
One aspect likely to change is Honda's policy that no public company could own more than 50 percent of a dealership.
Both parties expressed relief at the deal.
'We're looking forward to pursuing a very healthy and vigorous relationship with American Honda,' said Jim Donahue, Republic vice president of corporate communications.
'We have a lot better working relationship today than we did six months ago,' said Colliver. 'American Honda has for some time established guidelines regarding the number and location of dealerships that may be commonly owned, in order to promote fair competition and enhance customer service. This agreement with Republic furthers these goals.'