Bridgestone Corp. said Monday it had agreed to acquire Pep Boys for about $835 million in a move to expand its service-center network.
The world’s largest tire and rubber company will pay $15 a share in cash for Pep Boys, a 23% premium over Friday’s closing price of $12.15. The deal will add about 800 locations to Bridgestone’s U.S. network of 2,200 tire and automotive service centers, representing an immediate nationwide expansion of more than 35%.
“This is a clear sign that Bridgestone is committed to its retail strategy in the U.S.,” Nicholas Mitchell, an analyst at Northcoast Research Holdings, told Bloomberg. “We think Pep Boys will enable them to improve their service base.”
Pep Boys was founded in 1921 by four Navy veterans who pooled $800 to open a store in Philadelphia. Activist investor Mario Gabelli had been pressuring the company to consider a sale or other transaction that could boost the stock price, according to USA Today. Gabelli’s Gamco is Pep Boys’ largest investor with a 12.7% stake.
In May, The Wall Street Journal reported that private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital and other suitors had expressed interest in buying Pep Boys. A month later, the company confirmed it was up for sale.
“Auto-parts chains are seen as a bright spot in a retail market that has suffered from slowing foot traffic and e-commerce competition,” Bloomberg said. “There are more cars than ever on U.S. roads, and they’re older than ever — partly because of the lingering effects of the recession.”
“A new generation of more high-tech cars also has proved a boon to mechanics,” Bloomberg added. “They have sophisticated parts that are more expensive and harder for amateurs to work on.”
Shares of Pep Boys jumped 23% to $14.95 after the Bridgestone takeover was announced.
“Bridgestone and Pep Boys are two leading companies that share a proud heritage in the American automotive services industry,” Bridgestone Americas’ CEO Gary Garfield said in a news release. “Our shared expertise and commitment to our customers and employees will help us build an even stronger organization.”