The Unipart Group is to sell a controlling 50.1% stake in its automotive division to private equity firm H2 Equity Partners for an undisclosed sum.
With sales of more than Â£180 million, Unipart Automotive accounts for around 20% of the Unipart Group which also has interests in the logistics, consulting, marine and rail sectors.
H2 Equity Partnersâ€™ managing director Patrick Kalverboer will run the new company which will continue to trade as Unipart Automotive.
H2 first approached Unipart Group chief executive John Neill with a proposal nine months ago and have been working to get the operation into full swing for the past six months. The deal is expected to be concluded shortly.
It is hoped that H2â€™s controlling interest in Sator Holding â€“ a leading importer and distributor of automotive parts in Benelux and Northern France â€“ will eventually boost the number of parts offered by Unipart in the UK from 90,000 to 160,000.
A new buying group called AP United has also been created to boost purchasing volumes and improve efficiency, while Unipart Automotive should also benefit from H2 and Satorâ€™s IT infrastructure and a planned programme of joint investment.
Both parties talk of significant growth, although no targets for increases in turnover, profits network or staffing levels are being detailed. Both companies also acknowledge that Unipart Automotive has lost its way in recent years, but hope the sale of a controlling stake to H2 is part of a long-term move to re-establish the firm as the biggest player in the marketplace.
Around 2,100 people in the UK will continue to be employed by Unipart Automotive which will also continue to have its company headquarters at the long-established site in Cowley, Oxford.
Unipart Automotive has 175 branches in the UK and will in time enter the European market under H2â€™s stewardship.