UK business insolvencies slow

The rate of business insolvencies in
the UK is slowing down, research by Experian has shown.

The average financial strength score –
which predicts the likelihood of a business failing in the next 12
months, with 100 being the least likely and 1 being the most likely
– for business in the UK rose from 79.5 in January 2009 to 81.4 in
December 2009.

According to Experian, this has been
helped by an overall improvement in the time it takes businesses to
pay their suppliers.

“Businesses in Great Britain managed to
climb back to a better place financially in 2009,” said Experian
director Rolf Hickmann.

Italian leasing market

Italy’s leasing asset-backed security
market continued to deteriorate in November 2009, according to a
report by Moody’s Investor Services.

The ratings agency said that the net
default index rose to 2.3 percent – a 42 percent rise on the same
month in 2008.

Moody’s outlook for the Italian leasing
market continues to be negative, reflecting Italian lessors’
exposure to real estate, which made the sector “more vulnerable to
negative pressures”.

UK CV registrations fall 36% in

UK registrations for new vans and
trucks were 36.2 percent down in 2009 compared to the previous
year, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders
(SMMT) has shown.

Over the year, vans dropped 35.6
percent to 186,386 units, while trucks declined nearly 40 percent
to 34,746 units.

“Business demand and consumer
confidence remains low and the effects of recession will be slow to
clear in key parts of the CV market,” SMMT chief executive Paul
Everitt commented.

CV registration falls ease
across Europe

CV registrations around Europe dropped
32.4 percent in 2009 compared with 2008, figures from the European
Automobile Manufacturers’ Association show. December registrations
were 10.6 percent down, reflecting a less sharp decrease in the van
market in the last months of the year (down 6.3 percent in
Within that segment, the Spanish and French market recorded
positive figures of 19.7 and 15.3 percent for the month
Trucks between 3.5 tonnes and 16 tonnes were down 34 percent in
December, with only registrations in Poland growing – by almost 5
percent. All other major markets were negatively affected. Over the
year, registrations were 40 percent down.


Chinese wind turbine investment

China has surpassed the Americas as the
top investor in clean energy for the first time, and is
increasingly using asset finance to invest in the sector.

Chinese asset finance investment in
wind turbines rose by 27 percent year-on-year to $21.8 billion (€15
billion), while investment in solar technology almost doubled to
$1.9 billion, according to research by the Bloomberg New Energy
Finance group.

IBM GF expands China

IBM Global Financing has signed a deal
with the Chinese government to provide credit to companies working
in the Tianjin economic development zone.

Late last year, Tianjin Government
awarded IBM GF an exclusive license to provide factoring products
in the Tianjin Binhai New Area.


BVRLA boosts broker

The broker committee of leasing and
rental trade body, the BVRLA, has strengthened its code of conduct
for introducers, with the aim of improving customer service across
the sector.

The new code emphasises after-sales
service, requiring all BVRLA leasing broker members to engage more
actively with customer queries and complaints.

Other issues discussed include the
processing and communication of cancellations, as well as the
requirement that brokers must make the full terms of any business
they write available to funders, in order to improve

“This revised code reflects current
business practices and legislation and will instil greater
confidence among our member’s customers,” said John Lewis, chief
executive of the association.

Leaseurope: European leasing
down 36%

Research by Leaseurope showed that
Britain’s and Germany’s leasing markets were still Europe’s largest
markets in the first half of 2009, although they lost significant
business volume.

Germany’s new leasing volumes were
€19.7 billion in the first half of 2009 – a 23 percent fall on 2008
figures – while the UK leasing market dropped 30 percent to €19.6

In most Eastern European countries the
drops in business volume were between 60 and 80 percent, although
Polish lessors managed a more contained drop of 38 percent.

Across Europe, total business volumes
were €105.4 billion, 36 percent down on the first six months of


Raiffeisen receives €60m
funding from EIB

Raiffeisen Leasing International is to
receive €60 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for its
divisions in Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Raiffeisen’s Bosnian arm will receive
€40 million, while the Serbian unit is to get the remaining €20

The loans will be used to fund local
SMEs as well as public sector bodies, Raiffeisen said.


Banque PSA Finance looks for
Russian growth

On the heels of Banque PSA Finance
having been granted a Russian banking license late last month, the
car captive expects to launch over the coming weeks a number of
financing solutions for its Peugeot and Citroën dealers in the

Last year PSA Peugeot Citroën
significantly increased its market share in Russia by 0.8 points to
2.9 percent.

The company plans in March to start up
vehicle assembly operations at its Kaluga plant.

“With this new initiative,” said chief
operating officer Philippe Alexandre, “Banque PSA Finance will
contribute to achieving PSA Peugeot Citroën’s objective of becoming
more global.”


DLL launches ‘green’

De Lage Landen has launched a clean
technology group, which will focus on financing the entire
lifecycle of solar projects in the commercial and government

The Dutch lessor will offer extended
terms and working capital solutions for the solar distribution
channel, as well as debt and equity financing for commercial,
industrial and government projects.

Although launched in the US, the
business will have a global scope, a spokesperson said.

Mergers and

Close acquires GMAC invoice
finance book

Close Brothers Group has acquired the
invoice financing business of GMAC Commercial Finance for a maximum
of £98 million (€109 million).

As part of the acquisition, 23 staff
will transfer over to Close Brothers, which will integrate the
business into its existing factoring and invoice discounting
business, Close Invoice Finance, headed by David Thomson.

Close Brothers’ MD Stephen Hodges said
the acquisition “allows us to leverage our market experience and
funding strength to create value for shareholders”.


Caja Rural offers ‘preferred
finance’ to professionals

Spain’s Caja Rural de Toledo is making
available €60 million to local veterinarians and the pharmaceutical
sector through loans and lease agreements. The bank, part of
Spain’s cooperative credit group Grupo Caja Rural, said it recently
signed agreements for preferred finance with two industry trade
associations, Asociación de Farmacéuticos Empresarios de Toledo and
the Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Toledo. Each agreement makes
€30 million available to Toledo-based pharmacists and

New head of Santander

Mike Oxby has jumped ship from RBS
Lombard to Santander, where he is to head up its UK asset finance
arm. Oxby, who ran Lombard’s corporate regional business based in
Manchester, has been tasked with transforming Santander’s vehicle
finance unit into a general asset finance business. The Spanish
bank expects to make a number of key hires and launch several
products as it builds up its fledgling leasing arm. Oxby, who now
reports to Marcelino Castrillo Garcia, managing director of
products and marketing at Santander’s corporate arm, has previously
worked at De Lage Landen, Hewlett Packard Financial Services, and
Key Equipment Finance.

BCA sold to Montagu

Auction house BCA has been sold by its
owner, Montagu Private Equity, to Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, a
private equity group that owns the Hertz car rental chain, in a
deal worth £390 million (€447 million). Three other private equity
houses also bid for BCA, it was reported. Montagu paid £450 million
for BCA in 2006, but will book a profit on the deal as it will
retain the auctioneer’s property division, worth an estimated £250
million. BCA also recently won a deal to become the sole
remarketing partner for contract hire company LeasePlan.

Used van prices  continue
to rise

Used van prices increased by 0.3
percent to £3,694 (€4,239) in December 2009 compared with the
previous month, Manheim Auctions’ monthly van market analysis has
revealed. Values have increased for the fifth month in a row, and
in the van sector they have risen by as much as 46.3 percent since
December 2008. Manheim Auctions’ CV sales director, Alex Wright,
commented: “Despite the economic environment, the used van
marketplace has remained robust with average used van values having
increased by almost 50 percent in the last 12 months, despite age
and mileage being higher year-on-year.”