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Service King Owner Purchases Largest U.K. Auto Body Chain

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April 2, 2015—The Carlyle Group, owner of Service King Collision Centers, announced on Wednesday that it has reached an agreement to purchase the United Kingdom's largest auto body chain.

The alternative asset management firm agreed to acquire Nationwide Accident Repair Services (NARS) for $64.2 million.

The deal is subject to shareholder approval, which is expected to be approved.

Nationwide has more than 70 collision repair operations with 2,500 employees and fixes roughly 175,000 vehicles annually. The business also performs glass work and claim handling for fleets and insurers.

One of the factors in the sale was a historically declining market for collision repairs in the U.K.

“The level of notified insurance claims in relation to vehicle repairs as a percentage of cars insured has steadily declined in recent years, from 19.4 per cent [sic] in 2000 to 12.5 per cent in 2012,” Nationwide said in a document. “This has clearly reduced demand for bodyshop repair. Capacity in the bodyshop repair market has also fallen significantly. Although there are presently some indications that there is a better balance between supply and demand, there can be no certainty that this will be sustained or that the overall size of the market will materially recover."

Nationwide also acquired Seward Accident Repair Centres, the 10th largest multi-shop operation in the country, on Wednesday.

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