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

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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