GM Consolidates in Valley

General Motors Corp. last week said it plans to consolidate its dealer network in the San Fernando Valley by buying about a dozen small operations and combining them into four or five larger dealerships.

GM's move follows growing competition from superstores like Republic Industries' AutoNation USA, which sell a huge selection of new and used cars of various makes with haggle-free pricing. Republic owns 22 dealerships in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties and plans to build six AutoNation stores in the region.

GM plans to make its dealer network more attractive by closing under-performing stores and opening larger outlets that combine the GMC and Pontiac brands. Chrysler Corp. and Ford Motor Co. are making similar moves; last month, Ford announced that it would consolidate four dealerships in San Diego into a single superstore.

GM has not announced which San Fernando Valley dealerships have been approached, but the Los Angeles Times reported that a dealership in Canoga Park owned by Gary Sterkel and another in Valencia owned by Chip and Scott Young have already been sold to the automaker.

GM has a market share of only 13 percent in the Valley and 20 percent in the Los Angeles basin, compared to a national market share of 31 percent. Japanese cars tend to dominate the Southern California market; four of the top 10 models sold in L.A. County in the 12 months ended May 31 were Toyotas.

GlenFed Gets RedFed

Glendale-based Golden State Bancorp, parent of Glendale Federal Bank, agreed last week to acquire RedFed Bancorp in Redlands in a $158 million stock swap.

Golden State Chairman and Chief Executive Steven Trafton has said the thrift plans to boost its presence in California, and particularly in the Inland Empire. RedFed, parent of Redlands Federal Bank, owns 14 branches in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Golden State is rapidly expanding its profile, having signed a deal in November with McDonald's Corp. to place automated teller machines in the company's restaurants and other ATM deals in recent months with various sports venues and hotels. The company also agreed to acquire Pasadena-based CenFed Financial Corp. in August in a $210 million stock swap.

Under terms of the RedFed deal, Golden State will exchange $20.75 worth of its common stock for each share of RedFed, whose stock was trading for about $20 last week.

Home Depot Expansion

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