Merger talks between Stern and Hedin
The Dutch car distributor Stern is in merger talks with its Swedish competitor Anders Hedin Group. While a merger is not certain yet, it could be beneficial. Both Groups’ activities are complementary, geographically, as well as in the automotive brands they distribute.
After a possible merger, the combination wants to list on Euronext Amsterdam. Stern has been listed there since 2000. Hedin Automotive has 125 outlets, with more than 3.600 employees in Sweden, Norway, Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland. The Stern network has 75 outlets, with approximately 1.700 employees.
Stern represents several brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Nissan, Ford, and Volvo. Also, the company offers services such as leasing, rental, and financing. Hedin Automotive has been active since 1985. The company is a dealer for cars, commercial vehicles, and trucks of 30 brands, including brands that Stern also carries.
Stern and Hedin would complement each other. Also, the automotive market is becoming more and more an international market, and they see a merger as ‘the best way forward’. In addition, a combination of both companies would be well-positioned to “play a leading role in the expected further consolidation of automotive retailers in the eurozone.”
Consolidation is a general trend. The professionalization of the sector, but also the far-reaching technical innovation, requires investments, including in the area of knowledge. Moreover, how people buy and use vehicles is changing today. As a result, car dealers across Europe are reconsidering their position.
While Stern is mainly active in The Netherlands, Anders Hedin also has activities in Belgium. The group started in the country by acquiring importer-held Mercedes-Benz dealerships in 2017. At present, it owns 12 Flemish Mercedes-Benz dealers for a total investment of € 59 million. With a Belgian Mercedes-Benz market share of 20 %, it is the biggest Mercedes-Benz dealer group in the country.
Hedin is not the only international group active in Belgium. The French RCM Group bought several Walloon Mercedes-Benz dealerships. The Swedish Bilia Group owns several BMW dealerships. The Dutch Van Mossel Group acquired over 20 dealerships of different brands. The Swiss Emil Frey Group bought 6 Porsche dealerships.
The low profitability and unconsolidated market make Belgium interesting for foreign investors. Many dealerships have worked in an old-fashioned way, underinvesting in new possibilities and techniques. This makes their acquisition price more affordable.”