Penske Automotive Group Inc. says it would be interested in buying some dealerships in Germany owned by Daimler AG.
Daimler may want to sell four stores as it seeks to boost faltering profits, an unidentified source familiar with the company's thinking told Reuters. Daimler could sell more dealerships if those transactions go well, the source said.
"I really don't know much about Daimler's intentions," Anthony Pordon, Penske's executive vice president of investor relations and corporate development, wrote in an e-mail to Automotive News. "But if they were to sell dealerships, I am sure we would be interested in at least taking a look at some of the potential dealerships since we already have a presence in the German marketplace."
Penske owns or holds a stake in 35 dealerships in Germany, according to its Web site. Those stores sell 11 brands, including Volkswagen Group marques, Toyota, Lexus and several high-end brands such as Ferrari and Maserati.
All the publicly owned U.S. dealership groups have said they are interested in acquisitions.
Penske, the nation's second-largest dealership group, added $750 million in estimated annualized revenue through acquisitions in 2012. Penske is targeting revenue growth of more than 10 percent this year through a combination of higher same-store sales and acquisitions, CEO Roger Penske has said.
In January, Penske said he plans to acquire more dealerships in the United States, western Europe and Brazil, while keeping an eye on China. The company reiterated those growth plans during its first-quarter earnings call last month.
Reuters reported that Daimler depends on its unprofitable company-owned dealerships for a bigger share of domestic sales than BMW AG or Audi AG.
Daimler owns 98 Mercedes-Benz car showrooms that account for about half of its car sales in Germany, the brand's second-biggest market after the United States. BMW's 43 company-owned dealerships contribute about a quarter of its volume in Germany and Audi's 16 in-house outlets account for less than 10 percent of its vehicle sales in the country.
According to documents seen by Reuters, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche is targeting the company's retail operations as part of a promised savings drive of 2 billion euros, or about $2.6 billion. By selling outlets, Mercedes could cut its 16,000-employee German retail staff and associated costs.
"There is currently no final concept for restructuring the group's own retail network in Germany but different options are still being evaluated," the company said. It declined to comment specifically on store sales.
Reuters quoted its source as saying, "Management wants to try this out to see exactly how it would work in practice." He added: "Zetsche is no fan of own retail."