Fleet News

First National chief predicts Leasing superleague of three by 2005

A THREE-strong superleague of contract hire and leasing companies is set to emerge in the UK as First National Vehicle Holdings re-emphasised its commitment to reach a fleet of 100,000 vehicles.

The Abbey National-owned subsidiary is undergoing 'consolidation' this year but chief executive James Sturt-Scobie has pledged the company would go into acquisition mode again with the target of becoming a 100,000-plus leasing player by 2005 at the latest.

The company's growth commitment comes as two major contract hire and leasing deals are being finalised which are expected to create a two-strong superleague later this year. It is understood that GE Capital Fleet Services' proposed acquisition of LeasePlan is nearing completion, while shareholders of the Bank of Scotland and Halifax have approved the merger of the two firms. This would see the coming together of Bank of Scotland Vehicle Management and Godfrey Davis Contract Hire and Lex Vehicle Leasing, in which the Halifax has a 50% stake.

The deal between the Bank of Scotland and Halifax will create HBOS, which would operate a fleet of more than 140,000 vehicles, while if the GE/LeasePlan deals goes ahead it would surpass that.

In the past year, FNVC has acquired Highway Vehicle Management, Brooklyn Vehicle Contracts and Perry Contract Hire to create a fleet of around 65,000 units. Sturt-Scobie said: 'We want to be a sustainable top three player by 2005 and that means operating 100,000-plus vehicles to compete with the other major players. It is hard to see anyone else outside of those three companies joining the superleague.' He added: 'For companies operating more than 100,000 vehicles the strategies and economies of scale will be very similar. Medium-sized companies will find it difficult to compete and will have to find some kind of niche strategy. But not everyone will be able to do that so there could be some casualties.'

In addition to the acquisitions FNVH has also taken on the former customer base of Robins and Day Leasing which exited the market last year.

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