The projected sale this month of what used to be the late Billy Fuccillo’s Kia dealerships in Cape Coral and Port Charlotte have fallen through.
LMP Automotive, which is selling a portfolio of six dealerships, still owns what are now called Kia of Cape Coral and Kia of Port Charlotte. LMP Automotive and the two dealership general managers could not be reached for comment. The other four dealerships that were going to be part of the deal are in West Virginia.
Ali Ahmed, owner of Miami Lakes Automall and Cape Coral Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, confirmed via email his company is no longer under contract to buy the dealerships. Fuccillo Kia in Cape Coral, for about a five-year stretch, was considered the No. 1 Kia dealership in the world for sales volume.
Ahmed declined to comment as to why he’s no longer buying it.
After Fuccillo died in June 2021, his company sold his dealerships in Cape Coral and Port Charlotte for a combined $36 million to LMP Automotive Holdings. That company announced this summer it would be liquidating between $115 million and $126 million to its shareholders.
LMP Cape Coral KOCC LLC paid $13.1 million for the legacy Fuccillo property at 404 NE Pine Island Road in March 2021, property records show.
The fact that the sale of the dealerships fell through surprised Courtney Bernhard, a Tampa-based broker with Performance Brokerage Services. She specializes in corporate purchases or sales of car dealerships. She had no insider knowledge of the Cape Coral Kia deal, but she said it’s not typical for contracts to fall through at the last minute like this.
“The market has been very strong for automotive,” Bernhard said. “There aren’t a lot of sellers raising their hands. The margins and the profits, even with reduced inventory, have been strong. Going into the pandemic, and coming out of the pandemic, these dealers are making really good money. They’re just not really interested in selling unless there’s a really strong buyer with deep pockets, and they know they’re going to be approved by the manufacturer.”
The turnaround time from marketing the sale of a car dealership to closing the deal typically takes months, she said, meaning the Cape Coral and Port Charlotte dealerships could be in limbo for a while.
“Even if you have all your ducks in a row, you can be looking at a minimum of six months,” Bernhard said. “Part of that is just the normal process. Going through the application and getting the approval. A lot of it is just normal stuff. And you have to account for normal.”
The price of a dealership always depends on the location and the number of vehicles on hand that would be included in the transaction.
“What it comes down to is, what’s a seller willing to sell it for, and what’s a buyer willing to pay?” she said. “A lot of it is based on the franchise and the location. What’s the desire of the buyer to have that franchise in their portfolio? A buyer always tends to think they can come in and do better. They could be willing to pay more to get a return on their investment.”
Bernhard said she did not think the recent impacts of Hurricane Ian would play much of a factor in finding a new buyer for the Cape Coral Kia dealership, not with the amount of Kias in the area that need servicing and the regional popularity of the brand established by Fuccillo.
“Florida’s hot. Everybody wants to come down to Florida,” Bernhard said, despite the hurricane risk. “When you come down here, you know that. In Florida, part of the beauty of this state is we all run the risk of dealing with Mother Nature.
“We’re based out of Tampa. We thought it was coming here, and we evacuated. And then down south just got destroyed. Which was heartbreaking because we didn’t want to see anybody suffer. But this hasn’t deterred anyone from moving here.”
Because of the growth, she was confident LMP Automotive would find a new buyer soon.
“It doesn’t happen very often in today’s market, because the market’s just hot,” she said of deals falling through. “But it does happen. It’s not fun when it does. It’s not fun for either side, because a lot of expenses have gone into it.”
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