Advance Auto explores sale to private equity: sources

NEW YORK Thu Nov 1, 2012 8:52pm GMT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Advance Auto Parts Inc (AAP.N) has hired investment bank Blackstone Advisory to explore a potential sale to private equity, two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday, in a deal that could top $6 billion.

The auto parts retailer, which sells parts, accessories, batteries and maintenance items to both do-it-yourself and commercial customers, has attracted initial interest from several private equity firms, one of the people said.

The auction is at an early stage and the buyout firms have held management meetings with Advance Auto Parts over the past two weeks, the person said. Buyout firms are expected to team up for any deal, the person added.

Shares of Advance Auto Parts jumped 14.2 percent on Thursday to $81 on the New York Stock Exchange, valuing the company at more than $5.8 billion. CNBC reported news of the potential sale earlier on Thursday.

The people declined to be identified because the matter is not public. Representatives for Advance Auto Parts did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Blackstone declined to comment.

Advance Auto Parts competes with companies like O'Reilly Automotive Inc (ORLY.O), Autozone Inc (AZO.N) and Pep Boys (PBY.N).

A potential sale of Advance Auto Parts is just the latest deal in the auto parts retailer sector this year.

In February, Genuine Parts Co (GPC.N) acquired Quaker City Motor Parts Co for an undisclosed sum. In March, muffler provider Midas was acquired by tire supplier TBC Corp - part of Japan's Sumitomo Corp (8053.T) - for $173 million.

Pep Boys was targeted by private equity firm Gores Group for a $791 million buyout in May, but the deal fell through.

Earlier this summer, Reuters reported auto parts supplier General Parts was auctioning off its retail store chain, Carquest, in a $2 billion deal.

(Reporting by Olivia Oran and Soyoung Kim in New York; Editing by Gary Hill, Phil Berlowitz and M.D. Golan)

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