Volkswagen and German bank Metzler have sold their shareholding in LeasePlan to a consortium of investors for £2.6 billion.
The sale comes just a few months after talks between LeasePlan's owners and an unnamed consortium over the sale of the leasing giant were terminated.
At the time, LeasePlan’s owners Global Mobility Holding (through which Metzler and VW own LeasePlan) said it had no plans to pursue further options leading to a divestment of LeasePlan in the near future and confirmed that it will continue to support the company’s existing successful business approach.
However, Volkswagen has its own in-house leasing business, which made it harder to justify the 50% stake in LeasePlan when Europe's largest carmaker is cutting costs, reports Reuters
Through the joint venture, Volkswagen and the Fleet Investments BV, an investment company of the German banker Friedrich von Metzler, each held an indirect stake of 50% in LeasePlan.
Hans Dieter Pötsch, CFO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, said: "Since Volkswagen acquired its stake in LeasePlan in 2004, the investment has developed positively. This development is reflected in the attractive offer received from the investors.
"With the expansion of our own fleet management activities at Volkswagen Financial Services, the time has, in our opinion, now come to hand LeasePlan over to new investors.”
LeasePlan expects the sale to a consortium comprising Dutch and Danish pension funds, the sovereign wealth funds of Singapore and Abu Dhabi, Goldman Sachs and private equity firm TDR Capital to be concluded by the end of the year.
It must be cleared by the Dutch Central Bank and the European Central Bank.
Founded in 1963 and now the world's largest vehicle lease fleet management company, LeasePlan operates in 32 countries, has 6,800 employees and manages 1.42 million vehicles. It made a net profit of £262 million in 2014.
Vahid Daemi, CEO and chairman of the managing board of LeasePlan, said: “The change of ownership announced today marks a new era for our company and will enable LeasePlan to continue our successful journey and focus on executing our long-term strategy and growth ambitions.
“We remain fully committed to providing high quality and innovative fleet management and driver mobility services to our clients worldwide.”
Volkswagen and its then partners paid £1.4 billion for the business in 2004.
Volkswagen is aiming to make annual savings of £3.5 billion by 2017 at its VW passenger car brand to close a profitability gap with rivals such as Toyota.
The consortium will make an equity investment of around half the purchase price, with the rest to be funded by a £338 million mandatory convertible note and a £1 billion debt facility. LeasePlan will not be responsible for the debt.
The consortium will support LeasePlan management's strategy and expansion plans, Dutch pension fund manager PGGM said. LeasePlan will remain an independent company.
See the August 6th edition of Fleet News for more on this story.