Sonic Automotive completes acquisition of RFJ Auto Partners

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the puchase price listed in Sonic’s Dec. 9 regulatory filing.


Sonic Automotive Inc. has completed what CEO David Smith has called the group’s largest acquisition ever with its $950.2 million purchase of RFJ Auto Partners Holdings Inc.

The acquisition, which was revealed in September and closed on Monday, includes 22 franchised dealerships across Texas, Idaho, Washington, New Mexico, Missouri and Indiana. The deal also included 11 used-only stores in Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Sonic, of Charlotte, N.C., said the transaction is expected to add $3.2 billion in annual revenue.

“RFJ Auto’s geographic footprint, brand portfolio and proprietary processes complement our existing business model and align with our strategy to continue driving growth in our franchised dealership business,” Sonic President Jeff Dyke said in a statement.

RFJ Auto, based in Plano, Texas, formed in February 2014 when automotive retail veteran Rick Ford partnered with Jordan Co., a New York private equity firm.

RFJ Auto’s brand portfolio is made up of Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Maserati, Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, Lexus, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Hyundai, Honda and Mazda.

Sonic said the deal adds six new states to its footprint: Idaho, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico and Washington. Mazda is a new brand to Sonic’s automaker portfolio.

The public group now has 111 new-vehicle dealerships.

In a regulatory filing on Thursday, Sonic noted that the purchase price of RFJ Auto totaled $950.2 million. The figure included RFJ Auto’s parts and accessories inventory as well as its new and used vehicle inventories. The goodwill and real estate for RFJ Auto was still $700 million, a Sonic spokeswoman noted in an email.

RFJ Auto ranked No. 42 on Automotive News‘ most recent list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 19,705 new vehicles and 28,448 used vehicles in 2020. The group generated revenue of $2.8 billion last year.

Sonic ranks No. 7 on the list, retailing 93,281 new vehicles and 159,025 used vehicles in 2020 and generating revenue of $9.8 billion.

Rick Ford is staying on with Sonic as head operator of the RFJ Auto platform. Ford was a Sonic regional vice president earlier in his career and first met Dyke when they both worked at AutoNation Inc.

“I’m personally excited to be rejoining the Sonic family, working alongside David, Jeff and the Sonic team to continue delivering an exceptional experience to consumers across the country,” Ford said in a statement.

Eleanore Beatty

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