Eddie Lampert, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has been called the next Warren Buffet, isn't known as a passive investor. He spent much of the past decade acquiring and combining Kmart and Sears. He also owns about one-third of AutoZone.
So does it bother AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson that Lampert, 48, has continued to accumulate large chunks of AutoNation's stock and now controls a 55.1 percent stake in the nation's largest dealership group?
"We have a great relationship," Jackson said in an interview. "I'm smarter from knowing Eddie, and he's probably learned a thing or two from us. So we have a great relationship."
When they met 10 years ago, Jackson said, he and Lampert "discussed the business model; we discussed the business philosophy, the business strategy and capital allocation."
"We agreed on all four things, and he started buying shares subsequent to that," Jackson said.
Despite owning more than half the company, Lampert's ESL Investments holds only one AutoNation board seat.
"We have no hedge fund maniacs running around the building doing their own double-checking," Jackson said.
And don't count on seeing AutoNation dealerships in joint ventures in vehicle parts or servicing with Sears or AutoZone.
Said Jackson: "I made a vow to myself when I started my relationship with Eddie: I've never asked him about AutoZone; I've never asked him about Kmart, and I've never asked him about Sears. And he's never brought it up with me."