Fleet News

Sovereign speculation is rife

SPECULATION is rife that Sovereign Fleet Services - owned by Alliance & Leicester - is going for growth by snapping up smaller leasing firms. The rumour mill swung into action following a box number advertisement in sister title Fleet News which read: 'We are a major bank-owned finance and contract hire company looking to expand our business by acquiring contract hire companies operating with fleets of up to 3,000.'

Alliance & Leicester, which acquired Sovereign Finance and its vehicle management and contract hire operation through its commercial banking arm Girobank in 1996, refused to confirm or deny the reports. Manchester-based Sovereign had a fleet size of 5,500 vehicles on September 1, 1999, ranking it 42nd equal in FN 50, Fleet News' survey of the UK's top 50 contract hire companies. Managing director Gary Benfield declined to comment.

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