Roddy Graham, commercial director, Leasedrive Group, and chairman, Institute of Car Fleet Management
In 2008 I predicted that there would be the opportunity for well-positioned players to cherry-pick competitors.
Again, in a white paper entitled ‘A vision of fleet management in 2015: Predictions on how the fleet industry could look in the future’ I stated: “With some contract hire companies closing their doors to new business during the current economic climate, others losing money and some finding credit lines squeezed, there will inevitably be consolidation in the industry.
"And as finance houses concentrate on their core activities there may be fewer bank-owned companies.”
And so it has proved. We led the way at the end of last year in an interesting arrangement which saw us appointed by Investec to manage, operate and integrate the Masterlease UK contract hire portfolio.
Not only has that deal been a win-win-win situation for all three parties involved but it has been an innovative arrangement which has seen a new funding provider introduced to the UK fleet management sector.
Our successful recent integration of Masterlease UK has definitely whetted the appetite for more potential involvement by Investec in the market.
Other changes have recently taken place, the latest a pan-European agreement struck between BMW and ING providing further evidence of continued consolidation within our industry and banks continuing their exit of risk-related, non-core businesses.
BMW/Alphabet view the multi-marque pan-European leasing market as core to their overall strategy – although a number of us are left scratching our heads wondering why BMW is making such a massive financial commitment to a business which supports its key competitors in the OEM arena.
Maybe the pace of BMW/Alphabet’s expansion into new markets needs stabilising on one standard operating platform?
Whatever the rationale, we wish them well with the integration of these two very well respected names in the fleet management arena.
So what, or who next? Rumours abound about further consolidation.
We even hear that ING may not be the only mainland Europe bank looking to exit vehicle leasing and contract hire operations.