GE Cap: we’re not

GE Capital is having its fair
share of problems, most of which have been made public. But one
area in which it is absolutely sure it is having no problems with
is the building in Bristol which houses its main UK leasing hub.
Some weeks ago GE capital quashed rumours that it was thinking of
closing that business.

Doubtless this is still very much
the case, despite the fact that Richard Green, the MD of the UK
leasing division, is believed to have re-located recently from, er,
Bristol to the HQ of GE Cap’s fleet business in Sale.

And this is still also very much
the case despite GE Cap’s current efforts to make cutbacks –
including, no doubt, consolidating its businesses into smaller
numbers of buildings.

We should also, of course, not take
seriously the fact that the phone lines into the Bristol office
were not working on the two occasions Leasing Life called
them last month.

Great men of letters

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It seems that in lieu of
writing business in 2009, many of leasing’s idle hands are turning
to writing letters instead.

In the last month, Leasing
has caught wind of several missives and manifestos from
across the industry, issuing from becalmed brokerages and
frustrated recession veterans alike.

These letters are addressed to MPs,
Banks, and even overseas royalty, but all have one thing in common:
they say that it would be really, really, good if someone – anyone
– could put some money into the UK leasing industry. As in, soon.

Coffee lease, please

Whereas UK broker giant Shire
Leasing is not involved in the NACFB as a member company, it makes
a very significant contribution in terms of moral support: coffee.
Specifically a hot drinks vending machine, which the organisation
leases from an undisclosed lessor sourced by Shire.

Leasing’s wounded

We know that CIS markets are
difficult ground for foreign lessors to prosper in, but not usually
due to the risk of physical danger.

Or so we thought. Hypo Alpe Adria
Leasing, however, may know something that we don’t. The venerable
Austrian leasing institution has seen fit to arrange €250,000 worth
of medical insurance for its Ukrainian employees, including
ambulatory care, medicinal supply, emergency provision, dental
care, hospital treatment, and other mysterious options.

Good luck, Hypo – it’s tough out

Van lessors beware

Upmarket supermarket Waitrose
is making deliveries with the personal touch – by using a
“non-motorised, hand-drawn truck” to transport up to 12 bags of
groceries to customers within a mile’s radius.

Waitrose notes: “Hand carts are
thought to have been used first in Sumeria over 5,000 years ago,
but Waitrose is using an up-to-date version to make deliveries that
would normally be undertaken by a diesel-engined lorry.”

Well, good ideas never go out of
fashion. But the real question for lessors is, will this switch
lead to reduced demand for said diesel lorries?

Swedish spin in press release of
the month

Talk about putting a positive
spin on things. The Swedish carmaker Saab has filed for bankruptcy
protection in its homeland.

Not something to crow about,
surely? Yet the press release issued by the manufacturer presents
the news as an opportunity, rather than a disaster.

“Saab on the road to
independence” is the release’s heading, issued from the wonderfully
named Swedish town of Trollhättan, with the new model line-up and
the reorganisation of the carmaker prominently featured.

The words “insolvency”,
“bankrupt” and “bailout” don’t appear at all, on the other hand. Dr
Pangloss (“all for the best in the best of all possible worlds”)
would be proud.

A wise move?

As most leasing professionals
will tell you, you would have to be extremely brave, extremely well
funded or extremely dense to start up an SME-focused leasing
business at present.

Celebrity Kerry Katona and her
husband Mark, who started up their own leasing business this week,
certainly belong in one of those categories.

The company, KK Amusements, intends
to get a government grant to buy £5,000 worth of fruit machines to
lease out to pubs and bars, although no more complex business plan
has emerged.

Despite the naïvety of the venture,
the Katonas have one thing in common with most of Europe’s major
lessors: they are very heavily in debt.

Here at Basement Talk, we
hope to re-port on the resounding success of KK amusements any
month now.