Gemini Group Smash Repairs – We continue with another part of our review of the AMA Group tour and include the AMA tour calendar at the end of the article. AMA / Gemini merger
In September 2015, the merger AMA / Gemini takes place – the two largest entities in the Australian industry combine 70 branches in the country and New Zealand. Gemini brought 40 plants to the event and employed 750 workers, becoming AMA’s largest shareholder. In total, the company was worth about $300 million.
Gemini Group Smash Repairs
It was an interesting team. Malone came from the prestigious side of the company to use the best equipment and people, Hopkins came from the mum and dad repair industry and focused on gross profit and the most profitable ways of doing things. Malone was a pocket rocket of energy and enthusiasm, relishing his meetings with investors, giving press interviews and clearly excited about the consolidation opportunities offered by the industry and eagerly talking about them with anyone interested, Hopkins was more reserved, working more in the background, especially with insurance companies.
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In the market – as in many industries in Australia there was a duopoly in MSO repairs – Capital SMART and AMA Group – no one else came close to them in terms of size. You can imagine that a few directors in the insurance industry began to shift uncomfortably in their seats because they may have thought that it would be dangerous for an accident repair company to maintain such dominance in the market. However, there were many advantages to working with AMA in terms of unifying prices and reducing the administrative costs of working with the whole industry individually.
In early 2016, when AMA’s share price was around 80 cents, Wilson’s stock research paper called
Published in its Growth Strategy section: “We assume that AMA will almost triple its network to 200 stores by fiscal 24, after growing from 4 to 70 stores, especially thanks to the recent $ 100 million acquisition of Gemini. As part of its network, we expect AMA to eventually operate 40 higher volume quick repair shops (currently 17), which complements AMA’s takeover strategy by allowing a more efficient allocation of jobs to different types of repair shops in a specific geographical area.”
Although many thought it might be a big deal, the reality was that the AMA is set to reach 200 stores – all very soon – by 2019.
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. There was a picture of Jim Vais and Andy Hopkins hugging on the floor at a charity night, CEO of Vinnies Sleep Out – little knowing that the relationship – if Hopkins and Vais were not as far-reaching as it seemed.
Meanwhile, the AMA released a bullish semi-annual financial report with Ray Malone, the very important head of the organization – Phil Munday left the group at the start of the year. The company announced six more acquisitions and a dedicated website, and Malone said it bought all the other aggregators in the market and made money to buy more stores. It was a good time to enter the buying market – there were many operators who wanted to leave the industry but did not have firm exit plans. The AMA made the market an even more difficult space and benefited from people who had no will to compete. In some cases, they felt it was easier to sell the AMA than to outsource it to someone else in the area, or ask the AMA to build a new store that they feared would bankrupt them. however.
Who always seems to be extremely knowledgeable about the AMA – posted a story that the AMA spoke to the global buying giant Blackstone, which owns the US giant Service King Paint & Body. Many industry commentators predicted that AMA’s rapid growth was to be sold to a venture capital group or similar, and now was the time to do so – the group had a reach of over 100 locations and the balance sheet was looking good. Acquisitions led to growth, sales and profits boomed.
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During this time, Malone would leave panel activities to pursue ACAD activities, and Hopkins would continue as the panel’s general director.
Speculation: “The deal is likely to value the AMA panels at over $500 million, while analysts estimate that the rest of the AMA Group, which will continue to operate as a publicly traded company, will worth between $100 million and $200 million.”
In April, the AMA announced that it was going to spin off an automotive part (an aftermarket company called ACAD) and close a $506 million deal with Blackstone for the panel industry.
In June, the Blackstone deal collapsed after the AMA paid about $2.8 million in due diligence fees. The reason the purchase fell through was that the Australian Revenue Office refused the AMA’s request to split the ACAD business – meaning the transaction would not receive a split tax credit.
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Reveals that Suncorp has hired an adviser to review and test buyer interest in Capital SMART. SMART reported revenue of $290 million in fiscal 2017, with operating profit of $20.4 million, net profit of $14.1 million, and assets of $61.6 million. Suncorp also found that the SMART network had repaired 45% of its claims book.
Shortly thereafter, in September, the AMA Group released its full-year results, announcing a revenue increase of 33% to $506 million and 26 new acquisitions and four new sites from scratch. As well as the purchase of six Bear’s Auto Hospital groups in New South Wales, the prestigious Wells group acquisition of five Mark Wells stores in Queensland and Tasmania, and four Mt Druitt Group stores in Sydney.
At this point, the AMA is starting to recruit senior team members from the insurance industry by announcing that Anthony Day (pictured below right) would be joining the board as an independent non-executive director. Most recently, Day was CEO of Suncorp’s Group Insurance Division. A strategic move given the announcement that Suncorp’s 95% stake in SMART could be up for grabs. Around this time, AMA announces a 10 million share placement at 95.2 cents a share, with AustralianSuper, Myer Family Investments and Coliton Capital Partners (Simon Moore) becoming major shareholders and Moore joining the board.
Subsequent board changes saw Hopkins appointed CEO of the group while Malone remained chairman – a significant change for the AMA. At the time, Malone noted: “The company has now reached a size that requires a more traditional management structure and the addition of new talent to the executive management team and board of directors to ensure that over the next six years the just as successful. Mr. Hopkins has been my partner in developing the panel repair business over the past three years and is ideally suited to succeed me as CEO of the group.
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Meanwhile, as of April 2019, Suncorp is taking SMART sales seriously and claims to be looking for around $300 million. Competitors enter the ring – founder Jim Vais (pictured right), who resold his five percent to Suncorp so they can close the sale. It was backed by buyout firm Quadrant Private Equity – the company now behind relatively new multi-tasker operator Motorone. The AMA Group has been watching closely and is said to have taken an interest in Fix Auto, as well as other private equity bidders.
At the same time, something very important is happening to AMA Group, which will make the acquisition of SMART even more important. ). The joint venture with RACV and the two repair partners SmashTec and SRS was declared a great success, and in November 2019 IAG acquires the NRMA MotorServe service network – 23 sites in NSW and ACT. It goes without saying that IAG intends to repair its own insured cars just as Suncorp has decided to stop repairing its own insured cars. The departure of Mark Milner from Suncorp, who played a key role in the development of SMART and his arrival at IAG in 2016, cannot be overlooked.
AMA continues its activities by shifting its acquisitions to heavy vehicle repair and even hail repair. It is also acquiring SmashCare, which had eight Welsh facilities and a truck repair facility, and is placing Darren Cymru to run a heavy vehicle repair facility.
In July, AMA installs Steve Bubulj, another famous name in the insurance industry, who was a respected supply chain leader at IAG before joining QBE. Bubulj became the general director of the panels department. At this point, the AMA stock was trading at a healthy $1.46.
Lcv & Van Repairs
The last time I spoke to Hopkins he said, “My strategy has always been to provide what the customer – the insurer –