Group 1 Automotive to buy Toyota Dealership in Austin, Texas

(Reuters) - U.S. auto retailer Group 1 Automotive Inc said on Monday it would buy the Charles Maund Toyota dealership in Austin, Texas, as it is expected to add $435 million in annual revenues.

Acquisitions in the sector hit a record $8 billion in value last year despite predictions that the internet and Tesla Inc's direct-to-consumer sales strategy would kill traditional auto dealerships.

"Our current financial position allows us to continue to return capital to shareholders," said Earl J. Hesterberg, president and chief executive officer of Group 1.

The dealership, which will be renamed Toyota of North Austin, marks the 16th Toyota store in the company's U.S. portfolio.

The auto retailer said with many large companies relocating to Texas in recent years, the Austin metro market has grown by more than 30% to become the nation's fastest-growing large metro from 2010 to 2020.

Sales at auto dealers have thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic as car prices surged due to chip shortages and robust demand from consumers turning to personal transportation in the pandemic.

The auto dealer added that the combination of the Toyota brand and the Austin market represents a positive growth opportunity as Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp outsold General Motors Co in the United States in 2021.

That was the first time the Detroit automaker has not led U.S. auto sales for a full year since 1931.

(Reporting by Kannaki Deka in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

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