An Alabama-based company has upped the ante in the bidding war for the rights to the Columbus Nissan franchise currently held by Rob Doll.
S.E. Columbus Automotive LLC, placed an $850,000 bid late Wednesday with U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Georgia, according to court records. S.E. had until Wednesday to submit a bid. The S.E. Columbus Automotive bid tops a $750,000 offer to the court from Columbus dealer Carl Gregory.
Doll & Doll Motor Co. filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection in September after Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp., Nissan North America’s lending company, cut off funding for new car inventory in April. NMAC also sought to foreclose against RWD Real Estate LLC, a Doll-controlled entity that was constructing a new dealership on 14 acres in north Columbus before the project was stopped earlier this year as it neared completion. The property is located at the intersection of Whitesville and Whittlesey roads.
RWD Real Estate LLC is also in federal Bankruptcy Court, forced there by subcontractors that filed an involuntary bankruptcy action against the real estate holding company.
Mark S. Marani, an Atlanta attorney representing S.E. Columbus Automotive said Thursday his client was also interested in purchasing the new building and property.
Gregory and S.E. Columbus Automotive, whose managing partner is Shawn Esfahani of Daphne, Ala., are not the only ones interested in the Doll Nissan dealership.
Jay Stelzenmuller, owner of Columbus-based Jay Automotive Group, had been negotiating for weeks with Doll to purchase the Nissan dealership and its assets out of bankruptcy court. Stelzenmuller originally made a $50,000 offer that also included a minority ownership stake for Doll and a two-year $400,000 contract to keep Doll involved in the business. He later upped that to $600,000 before Gregory entered a higher bid.
Gregory and Stelzenmuller have indicated they would move the Nissan dealership, which is now located on Box Road, to their existing Columbus lots.
All franchise deals are subject to the approval of Nissan.
A hearing on the proposed sale had been scheduled for Dec. 7 in Judge John T. Laney III’s court, but had to be postponed after Doll suffered a death in his immediate family.
“A lot of the stuff will get sorted out next week,” Marani said.
Gregory, whose Columbus dealerships include Honda, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Hyundai and Volkswagen, agreed.
“We’ll see what happens next week,” Gregory said.
Stelzenmuller could not be reached for comment on Thursday.