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AAA Auto to decide on share sale in 2-3 months

AAA Auto AS, the largest second-hand car dealership in central Europe, will decide in two to three months on how it will sell its shares to investors, board Chairman Anthony Denny said.

AAA Auto AS must decide whether it will sell shares to public in an initial offering this year, Denny said in an interview on the sidelines of a press conference in Prague. He also is in talks with private equity companies and European car dealerships on the possible sale of a 45% stake, he said. AAA Auto, fully owned by Denny, an Australian expatriate living in Prague, is looking for investors to help finance building of new outlets in eastern Europe, including the Balkans, Ukraine and Russia.

The company, started in 1994, became the biggest used-car seller in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, according to AAA data. The company plans to build between 12 and 14 outlets annually, Denny said. „We identified a need for finances that would help us realize our quite aggressive expansion,” Denny said. Besides selling a stake to a partner, „we are also looking at an IPO but haven't reached the conclusion on which way to go.” Denny said that if AAA decides to sell shares in IPO, investors would be offered between 25 and 30% of existing shares, with him maintaining a controlling stake.

KBC Groep NV's Czech unit, Patria Finance, were chosen to help arrange the possible initial stock sale, and White & Case LLP was chosen as the legal adviser, Denny said. Prague-based AAA Auto's consolidated revenue grew 24% to 9.89 billion koruna (€349 million) last year. Revenue in the Czech Republic alone grew 6% to 6.94 billion koruna, the company said at the press conference. Denny said that financing the expansion through bank loans in the future would „put strain” on the company's business. He said the company has debt totaling 83% of its equity. (Bloomberg)