2009: A year of two halves
In all, 2009 was an extremely unpredictable and difficult time for European leasing. In January last year, just about the only forward-looking advice that could be offered was for lessors to keep their heads down and wait to see what happened in the months to come.
Sure enough, the business climate that prevailed in 2009’s first half left many smaller players seriously wondering how much damage their business models could take, and many larger companies falling silent as they pushed their energies into mass reorganisation.
Now though, in the aftermath of both our own and Leaseurope’s year-end conference events, it is amazing to see so much of this industry still standing to ring in the New Year.
No-one is under any illusions that 2010 will see a return to the ‘golden age’ of leasing, but at least now we can be surer of the road ahead, however long and steep it may turn out to be.
In the meantime, here are some of the events that stuck out for us over the last year of leasing:
Most overworked staff of the year: experienced litigators, or any members of a central credit committee for a major European network.
Banks to keep an eye on in the next year: SocGen, HSBC, Santander.
Surprisingly robust sector of the year: Marine pleasure craft and corporate jets.
Headache sector of the year: the telecoms industry.
Best SME lending support from government: Italian moratorium scheme on leasing, credit lines from European Investment Bank via leasing companies.
New funder most overwhelmed by broker applications: D&D Leasing.
Most unexpectedly lavish launch: A toss-up between Norton Folgate, which celebrated its rebirth at the Crypt in Holborn at the end of the summer, and CHP Consulting’s bash in the top of the Gherkin to toast the launch of a new version of its Alfa software.
Most diligent association: The Ukrainian Union of Lessors, for commitment to facilitating leasing in Ukraine, despite huge market difficulties.
Surprise of the year: Lombard quitting broker business.
Still waiting for: The integration of Fortis Lease and BNP Paribas Lease Group.
Most astounding job title: Visionary and Founder – position held by Justin Floyd of the late Smartfundit.com.
Country to hold onto business in: Poland, which managed positive growth all year despite general fears about the health of CEE economies.
Wise move of the year: Alexander Schmidecker, who headed recently nationalised Hypo Group Alpe Adria’s leasing arm for two weeks before making a swift departure to fellow Austrian network BAWAG PSK.
Victims of circumstance award: CIT, which has held on to flagship vendor programmes despite its parent entering bankruptcty… and exiting again in record time.
Most promising sector recovery: Recruitment, which as of Q4 was finally showing a much healthier rate of movement round the market.
Here’s to an easier 2010.