Constellation Automotive Group, the buyer and seller of used vehicles owned by TDR Capital, acquired smaller rival CarNext to expand its lead as Europe’s biggest online auto marketplace.
The addition of CarNext will bring Constellation’s annual sales through its various platforms to more than 2.5 million vehicles and 21 billion pounds ($28.7 billion) a year. The closely held companies didn’t disclose the terms of their deal.
Constellation raised more than 1 billion pounds in May to expand in Europe and the U.K., where it launched the car-buying service Cinch a year ago. Online car sales surged during pandemic lockdowns as traditional dealerships were forced to shut, a trend that could continue for one of the last bastions of brick-and-mortar retail.
“Organic growth can take quite a long time, whereas an acquisition of this size -- which is basically half the size we are already in Europe -- gives us that massive, strategic step up,” Avril Palmer-Baunack, Constellation’s executive chairman, said in a phone interview.
Constellation raised funds earlier this year from two sovereign wealth funds -- Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Singapore’s GIC -- as well as Neuberger Berman and Soros Fund Management LLC.
TDR acquired Constellation and took it private in 2019. While the London-based private equity firm may vest the company at some point, it’s not considering this now, said Thibaut Large, a TDR partner.
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