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Autobytel ACQUIRES AutoUSA - Automotive Internet Sales - 3rd Party Lead Source Provider

- Transaction Significantly Expands Autobytel's Dealer Network;
Expected to Deliver Meaningful Increases in Revenue and Cash Flow -

IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Autobytel Inc. (Nasdaq: ABTL), pioneer of the automotive Internet and the company dedicated to connecting automotive consumers with dealers and manufacturers, today announced it has acquired Ft. Lauderdale-based AutoUSA, a longstanding, premier Web-based auto leads and services provider, from AutoNation, Inc. (NYSE: AN).

The purchase price included $10.0 million in cash, a $1.0 million, 6% convertible note payable in one lump sum in five years and convertible to Autobytel common stock at a conversion price reflecting a 20% premium over the price of Autobytel's common stock on the date of closing, and warrants giving AutoNation the right to purchase approximately $1.0 million of Autobytel's common stock at an exercise price reflecting a 5% premium over the price of the stock on the date of closing. The transaction was financed by Union Bank, N.A. through a newly established $9.0 million senior secured term loan, and by drawing on Autobytel's existing secured working capital revolver. Both the term loan and the revolver carry interest at a rate of LIBOR plus 2.5%. The term loan is amortized over a period of four years. AutoUSA generated 2013 revenues of approximately $30.0 million, with positive operating income and cash flow. The company believes that the transaction will be accretive to Autobytel's 2014 results.

Autobytel said the acquisition expands its reach and influence in the industry by increasing its national new and used car dealer network to more than 5,200 from approximately 3,800, while boosting its business with auto manufacturers. It also enables the company to offer its new mobile and SaleMove products to a larger customer base, while continuing to build on relationships with OEMs and large dealer groups, including the AutoNation family of dealers.

Autobytel, which was founded in 1995 by former Southern California car dealer Pete Ellis, has again grown to become one of the most influential automotive services organizations, providing high quality leads and innovative marketing and mobile services to dealers and OEMs. The company serves a critical role in the industry in helping car buyers find the right vehicle while delivering highly relevant consumer purchasing information to its industry partners.

Phil DuPree, President of AutoUSA, has joined Autobytel as Executive Vice President, President of Dealer Services. As an inducement for joining the company, DuPree was granted an option to acquire 40,000 shares of Autobytel common stock at an exercise price equal to the closing price of Autobytel's common stock on the acquisition closing date. The option will initially vest based on certain financial performance criteria related to Autobytel's dealer services group and then on DuPree's time of service with Autobytel.

"AutoUSA brings a new, high quality client base to the Autobytel family and strengthens our existing relationship with AutoNation, which is the largest U.S. automotive retailer," said Jeff Coats, Autobytel's president and CEO. "The transaction solidifies our leadership role in the industry, enabling us to offer an even larger base of dealers and automakers top quality products, including leads that convert to sales at nearly three times an estimated industry average, and a wide range of mobile products designed to sell more cars.

"AutoUSA represents an outstanding fit with Autobytel. In addition to its core leads business, AutoUSA's suite of complementary third-party, Web-based services includes payment-based pre-qualification tools, incentive programs and other products and services designed to help dealer customers and manufacturers increase their sales," Coats added.

"Since 2000, AutoUSA has developed very strong relationships with dealers across the country. The combination of Autobytel and AutoUSA adds strength to both organizations and represents an opportunity for consolidation in an industry segment that remains fragmented," said Mike Maroone, president and chief operating officer of AutoNation, Inc. "This combination benefits automotive consumers, dealers and manufacturers, alike."

As previously announced, in addition to AutoUSA, Autobytel also recently acquired Advanced Mobile, LLC, now known as Autobytel Mobile, which provides a full lineup of auto industry mobile products and services such as mobile apps, mobile websites, Send2Phone capabilities and text message marketing, and TextShield, a web-based portal that allows dealers to centrally manage text communications. Also as previously announced, the company recently made a strategic investment in SaleMove, which enables auto dealers and manufacturers to enhance the online shopping experience by interacting with consumers in real-time. These new services will be available to Autobytel's expanded network of automotive dealers and manufacturers.

About Autobytel Inc.
Autobytel Inc. provides high quality consumer leads and associated marketing services to automotive dealers and manufacturers throughout the United States and offers consumers robust and original online automotive content to help them make informed car-buying decisions. The company pioneered the automotive internet in 1995 with its flagship website www.autobytel.com and has since helped tens of millions of automotive consumers research vehicles; connected thousands of dealers nationwide with motivated car buyers; and helped every major automaker market its brand online.

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AutoUSA Introduces Payment ProSM Powered by DriveItNow®, Payment-Qualified Website Leads for Auto Dealers 

 

Fort Lauderdale, FL – July 31st, 2012 – AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions (www.autousadealers.com) today introduced Payment ProSM powered by DriveItNow®, a payment-based conversion tool for auto dealer websites. Payment ProSM is a service that provides online shoppers with instant, real car loan payments based on individual credit and inventory eligibility, generating pre-qualified, first-party leads from dealer websites.

 With Payment ProSM, consumers click on a button showing real payments on any vehicle listing on a dealer’s website. A form appears that the shopper fills out, but no social security number or birth date is required. Based on the individual’s entered criteria, the system determines their credit eligibility without impacting the consumer’s credit score, instantly displays personalized monthly payment options, and delivers the dealer a dramatically-enhanced lead.

“Payment ProSM is good for the dealer because it shifts the shopper’s focus from what the lowest price is to what they can afford every month,” said Phil DuPree, President of AutoUSA. “The leads generated from these inquiries open the door for immediate engagement and more seamless negotiations.”

Payment ProSM offers auto dealers the following benefits:

  • Converts more traffic on dealer websites because consumers want to know monthly payment options based on their credit.
  • Generates the industry’s first dealer-website lead that includes the customer’s credit eligibility and desired payment from dealers’ own websites, resulting in high-closing prospects.
  • Eliminates wasted time showing customers vehicles they can’t afford, as well as time spent negotiating.
  • Puts dealers in charge of setting their own prices and financing terms, unlike lead services that force dealers into price wars in order to deliver the lowest price for the consumer while lowering gross profit margins.
  • Shifts consumer focus to monthly affordability, giving dealers more flexibility in pricing and negotiations.

Payment ProSM is a new service powered by DriveItNow’s patent-pending technology.  “We chose to partner with AutoUSA because of their tremendous industry reputation of bringing best-in-class tools to the market to increase Internet sales for automotive dealers,” said Tarry Shebesta, President of DriveItNow. “The launch of Payment ProSM shows they understand the value of producing high quality leads and the need for payment quoting.

Payment ProSM is available immediately for auto dealer websites and mobile sites. To learn more, visit http://www.paymentprodemo.com or contact your AutoUSA sales representative at 1-800-243-9935.

About AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions

AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions brings the best-in-class tools to increase Internet sales and lower costs for automotive dealerships. Leading products include Payment ProSM, a payment-based pre-qualification tool for dealer websites; ShowProSM incentive program, proven to turn more leads into shows; Leads&ListingsSM, providing the highest quality, new and used car email and phone leads from 100+ sites; PowerListingsSM 2.0, helping dealers increase traffic to—and leads from—their social media sites; and AVA Virtual Sales Assistant, helping dealerships manage more leads at a reduced cost. AutoUSA products are currently benefiting thousands of active dealers all across the U.S.

For more information, visit AutoUSA’s web site, subscribe to our blog at http://blog.autousadealers.com, follow us on Twitter @AutoUSALeads and “Like” us on Facebook at /AutoUSADealers

About DriveItNow (http://www.DriveItNow.com)


DriveItNow is a patent pending payment marketing technology service of Automobile Consumer Services, Inc. (ACS).  ACS leads the industry with innovative proprietary technology, superior customer service, and over twenty years of auto financing and leasing experience.

 

 

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