IMAP leverages niche expertise in successful cross-border sale of auto dealerships

Client Background & Objective

​GMS Groep is composed of a Mercedes-Benz dealership and a Nissan franchise dealership in Leuven, Belgium. In recent years, GMS Groep sold over 800 new cars and achieved a consolidated turnover of €30 million annually. The group experienced growth of approximately 60% in the past decade.

GMS Groep's objective was to be the first in the Belgian market to sell to a foreign company. The owner was interested in selling to a large group with significant growth potential and wanted to take advantage of the strategic wave of consolidation being pushed by Mercedes-Benz.

GMS Groep's owner knew the market landscape well but wanted an experienced intermediary to scope out and negotiate directly with competitors and potential buyers. Moreover, the owner was looking for an advisor with expertise in valuation matters, the ability to communicate effectively with parties involved and manage the structural steps of a deal. Due to tax issues, the owner of GMS Groep wanted to sell the entire holding company.

IMAP Advantage & Approach

GMS Groep was introduced to IMAP Partner, Bram Verstraeten, through a mutual contact. Mr. Verstraeten had already sold automobile concessions of premium and non-premium brands across the years and his unique and proven experience in this field was leveraged again in this case.

IMAP's team in Belgium set up and led negotiations with both Belgian and foreign parties in one-on-one meetings. The client and his lawyer were present during 80% of all meetings. The chosen buyer was Groupe Maurin, a French Group of approximately 75 car dealerships based out of Marseille. Given this was a cross-border deal, Mr. Verstraeten and his team had to deal with two sets of languages, business cultures and legal standards. Their knowledge of the sector and capabilities in managing international M&A transactions were crucial. This was a major step for the owner of GMS Groep and the buyer's first acquisition in Belgium, so a high degree of transparency and clear communication were required.

Outcome & Impact

​Under IMAP's guidance, GMS Groep sold 100% of the shares of the holding company, including the two dealerships and all real estate to Groupe Maurin. Applying the correct valuation framework and securing the highest possible price by engaging an international buyer ensured that the client's objectives were met. The process took exactly one year; from getting the assignment from GMS Groep up to closing the transaction. IMAP has continued along this successful track and is currently in negotiation with the same buyer for 3 other dealerships. ​


Philippe Craninx
+32  15 29 33 90