Ethos picks up AutoZone

The purchase of a majority stake in the automotive parts retailer is the firm’s fourth deal from Fund VI

Ethos Private Equity has acquired a controlling stake in automotive parts retailer and wholesaler AutoZone, according to a statement from the firm.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. Ethos declined to comment on financials.

Launched in 1999, AutoZone has 151 wholly-owned retail and wholesale branches and 37 member-owned franchise branches across South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Botswana.

Ethos acquired the stake from RMB Corvest, an on-balance sheet private equity provider and investment holding company Zico Capital, which acquired the business alongside senior management in a leveraged buyout in 2010. Autozone's senior management and black empowerment investors will own the remaining stake, according to Ethos.

Debt for the transaction was provided by Barclays Africa Group.

“Through our partnership with AutoZone’s experienced management team, we anticipate growing the business geographically, while improving customers’ experience via an expanded retail footprint,” said Ethos partner Christo Roos, who will join the AutoZone board along with two other Ethos investment professionals. “Together, we have already identified immediate opportunities and have embarked on a rigorous programme to accelerate AutoZone’s growth strategy.”

South African private equity investor Ethos invests in businesses with an enterprise value of between R750 million (€56 million; $65 million) to R3 billion (€224 million; $259 million), mostly in South Africa but also selectively in sub-Saharan Africa.

This is the fourth investment from Ethos Fund VI, a R7.9 billion (€589 million; $681 million) vehicle which closed in January 2013. The fund’s other investments are South African logistics supplier RTT, corporate clothing and promotional products business Kevro, and building and construction company Waco International.