Fleet News

Acquisitions signal radical changes to Euro leasing

TWO major acquisitions totalling almost €1.5 billion will radically change the landscape of the pan-European fleet market and facilitate more international fleet solutions.

Firstly, Arval Service Lease and PHH Europe have agreed terms on a €1 billion joint venture to create a pan-European leasing and fleet management giant.

Secondly, Lease Plan is seeking European Commission approval for a €451 million acquisition of Dial's operations in France, Italy, Spain and the UK.

Arval and PHH have worked closely for five years, and expect to seal their deal by July. Arval, owned by BNP Paribas, will pay $800 million (€856m) for an 80% stake in PHH Europe, while Avis Group Holdings, former owner of PHH, will retain a 20% stake in PHH Europe.

Their joint venture, under Francois Dambrine, head of BNP Paribas's fleet management operations, will establish a combined European fleet of 545,000 vehicles under the Arval/PHH name in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK, with a further 450,000 in the United States under the PHH/Arval name.

Michel Pebereau, chairman and chief executive officer of BNP Paribas, said: 'This alliance is a tremendous opportunity for BNP Paribas to further develop its business-to-business, fee-based specialised financial services operations.'

Richard Netherclift, PHH senior vice-president for Europe, said the new joint venture would allow Arval/PHH to be pro-active in pursuing pan-European opportunities.

Lease Plan, however, will remain the largest European leasing company when it buys Barclays-owned Dial and its fleet of 115,000 vehicles. The acquisition will create a combined pan-European fleet of 595,000 vehicles across 19 European countries.

Hugo Levecke, chairman and chief executive officer of ABN AMRO Lease Holding (parent of Lease Plan) said: 'The Lease Plan Group has been engaged in a strategic repositioning in order to ensure continuous growth and to become a global leader in vehicle fleet management.

'Our key objectives are to improve our service quality while optimising internal cost efficiency in order to reduce our customers' fleet management costs. The scale benefits provided by this acquisition will have a positive impact on the continuous achievement of these objectives.'

Lease Plan intends to maintain the Dial brand name and businesses, and to bring major investment to Dial, particularly in IT and e-commerce.

Ian Goswell, executive director of Dial, said the acquisition would end the uncertainty surrounding Dial in recent months, and bring reassurance to its staff and customers.

Dial has seen its pan-European business double on an annual basis in recent years, and foresees even greater opportunities to serve its international customers from within the Lease Plan group. (May 2000)

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