Italian market expands
in 2010 helped by photovoltaics and wind energy. Antonio Fabrizio


Table showing how Leasint was the top renewable energy lessor in Italy in 2010New
leasing business in Italy grew by 4.8% to €27.4bn last year, the
latest figures from Italy’s leasing association Assilea have

This is the first increase
after two years of falling investments. Renewable energy, public
sector leasing and vehicle finance were the main drivers of the
growth, although other segments fared less favourably.

Renewable energy leasing had
a 300% increase to €3.5bn for 2010, up from €890m in 2009. Half of
the leasing investments were for photovoltaic projects. Wind energy
accounted for another 24% and other types of renewables – mainly
biomass and hydroelectric – for the remainder.

Without taking into account
their renewable energy component, real estate and equipment leasing
continued to decrease. Real estate leasing was 10.4% down to
€8.9bn, accounting for one third of overall new business

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This is a shift from previous
years, when real estate leasing represented more than 50% of
Italian lessors’ portfolios. However, real estate in the public
sector boomed, ending up 80% above 2009 figures.

Equipment finance remains the
second largest segment, accounting for almost 30% of the

It grew significantly in the
first half of the year due to government incentives on equipment
investments – which drove new business up by 25% and 66% in May and
June 2010 respectively, just ahead of the end of the benefits on
June 30. The contraction in the second half of 2010 saw a 3.7%
decrease to €8bn for the full year.

Vehicle leasing, which makes
up 21% of new business, increased by 2% to €5.8bn. Commercial
vehicles grew by 4.5%, and car leasing was up by 1.5%. Big ticket
leasing – aircraft and train operations – fell 16% to €1bn for the

UniCredit Leasing regained
its top position above Leasint, reporting new business up 19.6% to

Intesa Sanpaolo’s leasing
business, including Leasint, was up 9.7% to €4.9bn. Of that figure,
€1.3bn went to renewable energy projects, making Leasint the
largest player in the renewable energy segment.

The other three largest
players were UBI Banca-owned UBI Leasing with €1.9bn, BNP Paribas
Leasing Solutions with €1.5bn and Gruppo MPS Leasing e Factoring
with €1.4bn. All of the top 10 lessors reported increases between
2.5 and 20%.

Despite the growth in
renewable energy, Assilea has warned that legislation to be
introduced in the coming months could hamper the sector’s future

At the beginning of March,
the Italian government announced plans for a new law which will
progressively reduce state subsidies in solar

Government officials have said the new rules will enable
the increase in renewable energy in line with the EU objectives,
but are feared to slow down the sector. Annual caps are due to be
announced in June.

Table showing how UniCredit takes top spot in Italian lessors ranking for 2010