SUKHPAL Singh Ahluwalia was just 18 when he spotted the chance to buy a car parts shop in North London that had gone into bankruptcy for £5,000.
The Wembley-based entrepreneur is now set to pocket up to £280m after agreeing to sell his business Euro Car Parts to US rival LKQ Corporation.
Singh, hailed as a “remarkable and incredibly bright” self-made man by those who know him, moved to the UK aged 13 with his family fleeing Idi Amin’s Ugandan regime.
After snapping up the Willesden car parts shop in 1978 using a small bank loan and funds from his father, he branched into the import and supply of parts for prestige German car brands such as BMW and Mercedes.
Over the past 30 years, Singh has transformed Euro Car Parts into the UK’s biggest distributor of replacement components for vehicles, with 89 outlets staffed by more than 3,500 employees.
The firm, wholly owned by Singh, is expected to generate revenues of approximately £78-£81m for 2011.
Chicago-based LKQ will buy the firm for £225m and has agreed to pay an extra £55m if Euro Car Parts meets certain growth targets in 2012 and 2013.
MEET THE ADVISERS
ROBERT W BAIRD
Robert W Baird, the boutique investment bank, acted as adviser to Euro Car Parts with David Silver, co-head of investment banking, leading the team.
Silver, who will take over as the head of European investment banking next year, joined Baird in 1998 and is a founding member of the firm’s M&A team in Europe. His team has advised on deals including FTI Consulting’s acquisition of public relations firm Financial Dynamics in 2006 and the sale of production agency Tag Worldwide - led by Crystal Palace football club owner Steve Parish - to Williams Lea in July. Silver, who has advised Euro Car Parts for more than three years, said they “fit extremely well culturally” with LKQ and “have exciting times ahead”.