Fleet News

ACL autolease and Jessups sold – Lloyds UDT and Interleasing swoop on independents

CONSOLIDATION and change in the contract hire industry stepped up a gear this week with ACL autolease and Jessups Vehicle Contracts both sold to major finance and leasing players.

Lloyds UDT, a subsidiary of Lloyds Bank, has bought Chartered Trust, including ACL autolease and its Motorent subsidiary, from Standard Chartered for £627 million, while Interleasing has also boosted its standing among the country's biggest contract hire companies with the purchase of Hoddesdon-based Jessups Vehicle Contracts for an undisclosed sum.

Lloyds UDT already owns Black Horse Vehicle Management, which has about 40,000 funded vehicles and the deal adds 43,500 funded vehicles, rocketing its fleet size into the newly-emerged superleague of contract hire firms, with more than 80,000 vehicles. Interleasing's fleet will jump to 78,000 units with the addition of 8,500 vehicles from the Jessups purchase.

Nick Brownrigg, managing director of Interleasing, predicted major industry players would be aiming for 100,000-vehicle fleets to ensure maximum buying power and efficiency and would not rule out further acquisitions to reach that level.

The deals are the latest in a surge of consolidation to hit the industry. One senior industry figure said that at least a further two medium-sized leasing companies would be sold before the end of the year - as companies battle against demands caused by falling residual values and pounce on opportunities to take a larger share of the market by buying up rivals.

Black Horse Vehicle Management's managing director Nigel Stead is to become the head of a newly-expanded contract hire division following the purchase of Chartered Trust and ACL autolease. Stead has already met with Simon Richmond, managing director of ACL autolease, following the firm's £627 million sale to Lloyds.

Stead said: 'I shall be working with Simon Richmond for a period until we have decided how best to manage the two businesses. Although we may look for further acquisition opportunities in future, we have just made a serious acquisition and will be concentrating on that at present.'

John Davies, managing director of Lloyds TSB Asset Finance Division, said: 'To be a significant player in the market, you need an operating size of more than 50,000 vehicles, but whether you need to reach 100,000 vehicles depends on how good you are at purchasing. However, if you are operating up to 20,000 vehicles, there will be problems. But, there is still room for the smaller niche players.'

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