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December 22, 2010updated 12 Apr 2017 4:17pm

Hitachi Cap in direct sales drive

Hitachi Capital has embarked on a major push to increase its UK presence, with a fleet acquisition and continued diversification in asset finance powered by increased funding commitment from its Japanese parent The sale of the business and 7,000-commercial vehicle portfolio came following a failed attempt by the companys management and lenders to restructure the business over the past 21 months

By Verdict Staff

Hitachi Capital has embarked on a major push to increase its UK presence, with a fleet acquisition and continued diversification in asset finance powered by increased funding commitment from its Japanese parent.

Subsidiary Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions bought UK rental company Newtown Vehicle Rentals, which went into administration on 2 December.

The sale of the business and 7,000-commercial vehicle portfolio came following a failed attempt by the company’s management and lenders to restructure the business over the past 21 months.

Dominic Wong, joint administrator from Deloitte, said: “NVR has historically been a profitable and growing business with robust revenues and a high quality customer base.

“The limited funding available in the recent economic environment for new and replacement vehicles caused the fleet to age, incurring greater maintenance costs which impacted both profitability and cash flow.”

Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions chief executive Simon Oliphant said: “Our focus for the next few weeks will be ensuring that customers experience minimal disruption and the retained staff commit to achieving this.”

Of NVR’s 131 employees, 98 left the business on agreed terms prior to the sale and 33 employees have taken up new contracts with Hitachi Capital.

Meanwhile, Hitachi Capital’s Business Finance division is on a serious expansion drive under the sales leadership of Marie Dunkley, who joined the business in the year’s second quarter.

The ex-GE veteran has brought in a team of six field-based sales staff to head up a new direct business unit, made up of a mix of GE, Bank of Scotland and Barclays Asset & Sales Finance alumni.

While Hitachi Capital Business Finance has mostly been present in the market through its agricultural finance and block discounting arms over the last year, the new direct unit will allow it to build a larger book of construction, manufacturing and transportation assets by selling straight to businesses.

In addition, Dunkley has overseen the launch of a new vendor finance channel for HCBF, which is currently seeking to establish relationships with manufacturers and dealers in the construction and materials handling sector.

The push for materials handling business puts Hitachi on a growing list of funders seeking to make waves in the sector – Aldermore has recently started up a dedicated materials handling division, while Close Asset Finance has also increased its presence in the asset class.

Bibby Leasing, HSBC Equipment Finance and the market’s current largest player BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions have all also expressed desire for a greater participation in materials handling asset finance.

Speaking about HCBF’s general expansion, Dunkley said that she saw the company working with the ethos of a “niche player”, but on a significantly larger scale.

“We want to be firmly on the list of companies that business think of when looking to lease equipment,” she added. “At the same time we want to be seen as real specialists in the asset and customer types we work with”.

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