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Private equity fuels more dealership purchases

Consolidation among large dealership groups continues going into 2017.

The George Soros-backed McLarty Automotive Group snapped up Asbury Automotive Group Inc.'s stores in Arkansas last week. Meanwhile, Gee Automotive Cos., of Spokane, Wash., agreed to buy much of the larger Ron Tonkin Family of Dealerships, of Portland, Ore.

Look for more cases of minnows swallowing whales, said Erin Kerrigan, managing director of Kerrigan Advisors in Irvine, Calif., which represented the Tonkin family in the transaction. "Transactions like this are going to be more common," she predicted, with the new entity designed to be "led by a younger operator, to grow and expand in a region."

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