There's a lot still unknown about CDK Global Inc.'s plan to sell itself to global investment firm Brookfield Business Partners — from the company's leadership structure and operations to how its dealership customers will respond.
CDK CEO Brian Krzanich, in a letter to employees this month disclosed in a federal regulatory filing, said that after the acquisition, "we will operate independently as a part of Brookfield and largely as we do today."
One significant change, however, will come when the deal, valued at $8.3 billion, closes this year: Dealership management system giant CDK no longer will list its stock on the Nasdaq exchange.
Analysts who follow CDK told me that the move could be a way for the company to invest in growth strategies without having to satisfy public company investors' growth expectations every quarter.
"Notably, this transaction aligns us with our peers, including Reynolds, Cox and Tekion, as a privately held company, which will place us in a better position to achieve our long-term growth plan," Krzanich said in the letter.
I wrote last year about the shift in the DMS market and what it may mean for the long-running duopoly of CDK and privately held Reynolds and Reynolds Co. CDK is believed to lead the market with its 9,100-plus automotive DMS customer sites, though at the time we published our examination of the sector, in March 2021, it was difficult to know whether Reynolds or Cox Automotive's Dealertrack was No. 2.
It was — and continues to be — difficult to know because Reynolds and Cox don't share their dealership customer counts and comprehensive market share data isn't publicly available.
Right now, CDK reports its financial results quarterly. Company executives regularly share such details as the number of automotive DMS customer sites, CDK's successes with attracting and retaining dealership customers, strategic technology initiatives and details about new products or pilots on earnings calls.
We don't know how much information Brookfield will share about CDK once the sale is complete. It could be more difficult to track how the DMS market continues to change, particularly to meet the industry's increased demands for online selling and electrification. But we will continue to follow it closely.