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April 6, 2009updated 12 Apr 2017 4:39pm

Banking and SME focus for A&L

Following much debate, it appears Spanish banking group Santander does not plan any major restructuring of its UK asset finance activities, which are predominantly run by Alliance & Leicester (A&L), the British business it acquired in October last year. But it will now only focus on direct customers and looks to expand its presence in the small and medium-sized sectors.

By Antonio Fabrizio

Following much debate, it appears Spanish banking group Santander does not plan any major restructuring of its UK asset finance activities, which are predominantly run by Alliance & Leicester (A&L), the British business it acquired in October last year. But it will now only focus on direct customers and looks to expand its presence in the small and medium-sized sectors.

An A&L spokesperson said the asset finance division of the company will focus on specific assets, particularly on buses, coaches and commercial vehicles, but with a view to offering finance to a “wider range of businesses”, particularly in the SME sector.

Despite a voluntary redundancy scheme launched in 2008, which followed cost-cutting as well as a decrease in customer demand, the company said “there has been no change in the structure and the leasing that we offer and the sectors in which we operate”.

The British banking group, however, has decided it will no longer provide finance to independent leasing companies, in line with the business model adopted by its new parent company.

A spokesperson explained: “We used to provide finance to contract hire companies, which then offered fleet services to individual businesses. But this meant the end-customer was receiving finance from A&L without knowing we were the finance company, because they were dealing with these middle-men which were effectively almost like brokers.”

Going forward, A&L will therefore be following the Santander group’s line, which is based on “relationship-led banking”.

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