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Industry vet Mark LaNeve helps drive firm’s plan to invest $400M in dealerships

A private investment firm connected to longtime automaker executive Mark LaNeve aims to spend around $400 million over the next three years buying minority stakes in auto dealerships.

New York-based Franchise Equity Partners launched this month. It was co-founded by Michael Esposito and Scott Romanoff, who are the firm’s managing partners. LaNeve, a former Ford Motor Co. and General Motors sales and marketing executive, and Don Reese, former CEO of used-car retailer DriveTime, are part of the firm’s leadership team.

Franchise Equity Partners is backed by New York investment firm HPS Investment Partners, which has $75 billion in capital, Esposito said. HPS has allocated $1 billion to fund Franchise Equity Partners, which will invest in five areas: auto dealerships, restaurants, heavy-equipment dealerships, beverage distributors and consumer services such as health and beauty.

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