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Metropolis Parking and SP Plus - Everything You Need to Know About the Parking Industry's Biggest Deal to Date

On October 5th, 2023, Metropolis Technologies agreed to buy the largest provider of parking services in the country, SP Plus. The purchase price was $1.5B, or a purchase price of $54 dollars per share, a 54% premium to its closing price the prior day. We'll look at Metropolis' acquisition strategy, the risks, and what this means for the parking industry broadly.

Metropolis's Acquisition Strategy

In the parking industry, signing on each new parking facility can be time consuming. Many real estate owners stick with the same parking operator for decades, which is why parking operators like SP Plus, which was founded in 1929, grew slowly over many decades. Instead of selling to each individual real estate owner, Metropolis is aggressively acquiring parking operators to accelerate this process. In April 2021, it partnered with Premier Parking, which it acquired the following year, bringing Metropolis to 600 parking facilities under management. Its acquisition of SP Plus will add 3,250 parking facilities to its portfolio, for a total of 3,850 properties under management.


Whether Metropolis can absorb SP Plus's massive portfolio of parking facilities remains to be seen. Like a fish swallowing a whale, Metropolis has a lot to digest. It will first need to clear the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, which involves a sign off from the FTC and DOJ before the merger is finalized.

After clearing regulatory hurdles, Metropolis will need to transition thousands of garages to use the Metropolis system. This can be a hairy process that includes a a risky technology migration, expensive signage replacement and local hardware installation, and off-boarding employees who serve duplicate functions.

SP Plus also offers many products beyond parking management, such as luggage storage and shuttle service. Its product line Sphere is very similar to Metropolis's own cloud-based analytics offering. For now, Metropolis says they'll keep both, integrating Sphere Commerce into the Metropolis platform.

Metropolis has 574 employees according to LinkedIn, while SP Plus has 5,500. Absorbing a team so much larger, along with the layoffs that will likely happen to reduce duplication within the organization, can be dampen team morale.

What does this mean for the parking industry?

The parking industry is large and highly fragmented, with many local operators and several scale operators like LAZ, Premium, AirGarage, and formerly SP Plus. Many within the industry are predicting the parking industry will consolidate, enabling operators to harness economies of scale to run properties more efficiently and spread the fixed costs of technology across an entire portfolio of parking properties.

AirGarage - The leading Metropolis alternative

AirGarage is a parking operator that uses technology like dynamic pricing to maximize revenue for parking facility owners. AirGarage offers a similar automated parking experience to Metropolis, in addition to our world-class operations expertise.

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