Mercedes open to sale of group-owned dealerships in Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) – Mercedes-Benz is open to selling the dealerships and workshops it owns in Germany, the carmaker said on Friday.

“After very positive experiences in various European markets, we are now also examining how we can set up our Group-owned retail branches more independently in Germany,” the carmaker said in a written statement.

“A potential sale to experienced and renowned dealer groups is being evaluated and cannot be ruled out,” it added.

According to Germany’s Handelsblatt daily, which first reported the review, Mercedes-Benz’s supervisory board is expected to approve the plans on Friday.

“Each branch will be examined individually and on a branch-specific basis,” Mercedes-Benz said in its statement, ruling out the closure of branches as this was not the subject of review.

The review would concern 20 branches with 80 dealerships and 8,000 employees, the Handelsblatt reported, estimating each branch to be worth up to 40 million euros ($43.50 million).

Potential buyers must, among other things, bring “automobile retail expertise” to the table and hold on to job guarantees in Germany, the carmaker said.

“The aim is to secure the long-term sustainability of regional jobs as well as the existence and competitiveness of the branches.”

Mercedes-Benz has in previous years sold various showrooms in the UK, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Czech Republic.

($1 = 0.9195 euros)

(Reporting by Christina Amann, Writing by Nette Nöstlinger, Editing by Miranda Murray)