Fleet News

HG Capital's acquisition of Zenith confirmed

Private equity company HG Capital has acquired a majority stake in Zenith, less than two months after buying Leasedrive, it was confirmed today.

HG Capital has signed an agreement to acquire a majority stake holding in the parent company of Zenith Vehicle Contracts Group from Morgan Stanley Global Private Equity (MSPE), subject to regulatory approvals.

A 60% stake in the top 20 leasing company, which operates a risk fleet of more than 27,000 vehicles, was acquired by MSPE in August 2010.

Tim Buchan, chief executive officer of Zenith, said: “We thank MSPE for their contribution and are pleased to welcome HG Capital as our new partner.

“We look forward to working together on our long term strategy of continued investment in product and system developments”.

Zenith’s chairman Andrew Cope will be stepping down from his post, but will remain an investor in the new group.

The Zenith board will continue to be led by Buchan and Mark Phillips, alongside the existing management team.

HG Capital’s Andrew Land, Nick Turner and Simon Cottle will also join the board.

Land said: “We are delighted to be investing in Zenith and to be supporting its high calibre management team.

“We look forward to working closely with them to continue their growth and success”.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

HG Capital completed its acquisition of Leasedrive on December 6, 2013, a week after senior management first confirmed a deal was in the offing to Fleet News.

It was at this time when Fleet News first reported that the private equity company could also be interested in adding Zenith to its portfolio.

However, Zenith’s commercial director Ian Hughes would not be drawn on whether a deal was in the offing, when he spoke to Fleet News.

Then the news broke yesterday (Thursday) that a deal was imminent with sources suggesting that that the Zenith and Leasedrive will be merged.

HG Capital’s Land, who joins the Zenith board, also took a position on the Leasedrive board following that acquisition, with Jon Walden becoming non-executive chairman of the Wokingham-based business.

Walden was Lex Vehicle Leasing managing director before it merged with Lex Autolease. He recently left his position as chairman at franchised dealer group HR Owen.

Shortly after acquiring Leasedrive, Land said: “We had previously identified the leasing sector as a core focus area.”

Zenith is the UK’s 12th biggest contract hire company, funding a fleet of 27,310 vehicles, while Leasedrive is the UK’s 14th biggest contract hire company, funding a fleet of 20,872 vehicles, according to the latest Fleet News FN50.

The combined risk fleet of Leasedrive and Zenith would equate to more than 48,000 vehicles and put it into the top ten of the FN50.

 


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