Online car market Auto Trader invests in Chinese Biauto Holdings

Chinese Internet content and marketing services group Bitauto Holdings Limited (NYSE:BITA) on Friday said US digital automotive marketplace operator AutoTrader Group Inc would invest USD58.5m (EUR45.3m) to buy some 21.8% in it.

The purchase of 9m Bitauto ordinary shares will be carried out in a private transaction agreed between AutoTrader and some of the Chinese firm’s existing pre-IPO shareholders.

At the same time, a pre-IPO Bitauto shareholder has agreed to sell around 2.4% in the company to a senior management team, including chairman and CEO William Bin Li, president Jingning Shao, CFO Andy Xuan Zhang and senior vice president Weihai Qu. The executives will use a four-year term loan from AutoTrader to finance the USD6.5m stock purchase, the target firm said.

Bin Li welcomed AutoTrader as a strategic investor in Bitauto, saying that the US’s company’s position as the largest digital automotive marketplace in the country makes it an ideal partner for Bitauto. The cooperation is seen to generate substantial opportunities for both companies in the long term, Bitauto’s CEO added.

For its part, AutoTrader sees the move to align it with China’s top online automotive site, while making its portfolio of companies stronger and creating a base for its future growth in emerging markets, CEO Chip Perry commented.

Pending customary closing conditions, both transactions are expected to close in November.

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, AutoTrader operates the AutoTrader.com and Kelley Blue Book websites, offering content and information of the car buying process. It also has a software solutions business supporting dealers in appraising, managing, pricing and marketing their inventory.

Italian eyewear maker Luxottica continues consolidation with Alain Mikli buy

Italian luxury and sports eyewear specialist Luxottica Group SpA (BIT:LUX) unveiled an exclusivity agreement for the purchase of French luxury and contemporary eyewear producer Alain Mikli International SA from Alain Miklitarian and London-based investor NEO Capital.

The buyer did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, which is still subject to negotiations and completion of consultation with Alain Mikli’s employee representatives.

The proposed acquisition would substantially enhance Luxottica’s luxury brand portfolio, with the addition of Alain Mikli’s uniquely detailed design and its unconventional use of colours, the buyer said.

According to Luxottica’s CEO Andrea Guerra, the contemplated deal serves the group’s growth plans, further boosting its prescription soul, where it had invested strongly in the past years. The combination would also enable Alain Mikli to widen its selected global foothold by using Luxottica’s business model and extensive know-how of luxury eyewear distribution, Guerra added in his comment.

In turn, Alain Mikli noted that under the ownership of Luxottica, his firm will move to the next level in distribution, quality and service. Paris-based Alain Mikli has been active since 1978, with some EUR60m (USD77.4m) of revenues made last year.

Luxottica has manufacturing plants in Italy, the US, Brazil and China. Its portfolio includes house brands Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Arnette and REVO and licensed brands such as Bvlgari, Burberry, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan and others.

For more information on Luxottica’s dominant position in the eyewear market, click here.