Fleet News

Pendragon shares plummet on news of takeover moves

SHARES in dealership and leasing group Pendragon slumped 25% following the group's £44 million bid for 17 dealerships from Lex and a simultaneous £56 million rights issue amid City fears over the profitability of volume dealerships. Pendragon shares have fallen steadily since the bid for Lex's remaining Ford and Vauxhall outlets and a handful of Nissan and Peugeot franchises.

Now Pendragon chief executive Trevor Finn and finance director Ian Wheeler are visiting institutional shareholders to explain the company's rationale. The rights issue will help fund the acquisition and the opening of a further 30 outlets.

While some groups look to bail out of the sector altogether, others are seeking to ditch volume franchises in favour of more exclusive marques and higher margins, with others only too happy to snap up their cast-offs in pursuit of higher turnover.

The consensus among many city analysts is that Pendragon has got it right. Del Barrett at Formula One said the move would pay dividends in the longer term, but investors were looking for quicker returns. Albert E. Sharpe motor analyst Tim Richmond said: 'People in the City don't like the Lex deal or the move into volume and are questioning whether Pendragon should be trading at a premium to other dealerships. It's a temporary blip because Pendragon has to go into volume to keep growing the business.'

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