The purchase, by the leasing firm's parent Lloyds TSB's Asset Finance Division, includes Abbey National Vehicle Finance, and adds about 73,000 vehicles to the Lloyds fleet of 85,000 vehicles, creating a 158,000 vehicle fleet, of which an estimated 140,000 vehicles are funded.
In Fleet News' FN50 league table of the country's largest contract hire firms, LeasePlan was number one with 120,000 units, while Lex Vehicle Leasing was second with 92,577 vehicles.
Lloyds TSB Asset Finance will pay £46 million for the First National businesses, a figure that includes goodwill. As of December 31, 2001 FNVH and ANVH had operating lease assets totalling £400 million.
The FNVH business will be combined with Lloyds TSB autolease and rebranded within the next few months. It offers an in-road into major new markets for the Lloyds business.
Abbey National announced earlier this year that FNVH was being offered for sale as part of a move to focus its Business Finance Division more on the small to medium-sized business sector. Fleet News revealed earlier this month that Lloyds TSB autolease was the main focus of attention as the potential purchaser.
Nigel Stead, managing director of Lloyds TSB autolease, said: 'The First National Vehicle Holdings business is complementary to ours, with involvement in markets where we do not have a strong presence, such as the public sector and courtesy cars. There is also the benefit of its car ownership scheme Whitechapel Corporate Services.
'The car contract hire market offers considerable opportunities for organisations that have scale, expertise and experience. The acquisition of FNVH enables us to strengthen our position in this market. It is a sound business, with excellent staff and we will be able to build upon our offer to all of our customers with an enhanced range of products and services.'
Stead is currently in discussions with FNVH chief executive James Sturt-Scobie on integrating the two companies.
The merged company will have its headquarters at Lloyds TSB autolease offices in Birmingham, although FNVH's Bury site will also remain operational.
Stead said it was unlikely this would spark acquisitions of a similar size in the industry, but added: 'Consolidation will continue, although the more it continues, the less opportunities there will be going forward.'