Fleet News

Woodchester a target for takeover?

WOODCHESTER Investments looks likely to be the next takeover target for financial institutions looking to buy into the car leasing industry. The subsidiary of French Bank Credit Lyonnais is to be sold as a condition of its troubled parent company receiving financial assistance from the French Government.

Potential buyers include established players GE Capital and Lease Plan's owners ABN-Amro, but Woodchester has also been linked with newer arrivals on the car leasing scene like Abbey National as well as the Halifax Building Society. Abbey National registered its interest in leasing last year by buying Elton Holdings via its First National Bank subsidiary. The Halifax has yet to enter the sector, but is understood to be very keen to acquire a small to medium-sized operation.

Woodchester operates around 6,000 vehicles - principally in the UK and Eire - but also in Denmark and Portugal. Last month, the Irish company agreed to buy the remaining 49% of Lookers Planned Motoring from the Lookers dealer group after initially purchasing 51% of the operation in 1993.

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