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Stay Against Republic to Remain in Effect

May 20, 1997|John O'Dell

A Texas administrative law judge has denied Republic Industries' request to move ahead with its proposed purchase of a Houston Toyota dealership without a formal hearing on Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.'s opposition to the deal. Torrance-based Toyota said the ruling, handed down late Friday, is a victory for its side. At Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Republic, executives said they were disappointed but not worried. No date has been set for the hearing. Toyota contends Republic's purchase of the Houston dealership violates a company policy that requires a nine-month waiting period between dealership purchases by the same entity. Additionally, Toyota says Republic has made it clear that it intends to ignore the company's limit on how many of its Toyota and Lexus dealerships an entity can own. Republic, which aims to dominate new car sales in the 50 largest markets in the country by the end of the decade, bought a Toyota dealership in Florida in February. It has since agreed to acquire the Houston dealership, a Toyota dealership in Tempe, Ariz., and a pair of Lexus franchises in Florida. After Republic announced the Houston deal last month, Toyota filed a request with the Texas Department of Transportation to prohibit the sale. Republic had sought a ruling that its purchase of the Houston dealership could proceed without the regulatory hearing.

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