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December 1, 2009

News Digest

ING Lease UK has been named Lessor of the Year by the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers at its annual industry awards event, held at Chelsea FCs Stamford Bridge football stadium last month

By Verdict Staff

ASSOCIATIONS

ING Lease picks up NACFB awards

ING Lease UK has been named ‘Lessor of the Year’ by the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers at its annual industry awards event, held at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge football stadium last month. The bank-owned lessor also picked up ‘Vehicle Finance Provider of the Year’, while Bibby Financial Services was named ‘Factor/Invoice Discounter of the Year”.

Lessors still using brokers

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association claims leading contract hire and leasing firms have pledged their commitment to the leasing broker sector. At a recent leasing broker committee meeting, lessors such as Arval, LeasePlan and Lex Autolease are said to have confirmed the broker channel is still a significant route to market for them.

SME support needed

In its pre-Budget report submission, the UK’s Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) is calling for government support for SMEs that invest in capital equipment through leasing. The FLA asks the government allow lessors to claim capital allowances on behalf of SMEs, to pass the benefits on to them through lower rentals.

Ukraine starts up car rental association

The first meeting of the car rental committee of Ukraine’s leasing association, UUL, took place last month, as part of a campaign by members to see the rental industry recognised as legally separate from equipment leasing. Participating companies – including Europcar, Hertz, Rent-a-Car, BLS, Avis and Budget – spent the meeting discussing criteria for other car rental companies’ membership of the committee. The lessors also agreed to sign up to Leaseurope’s code of best practice for car hire providers.

ECONOMIC TRENDS

Shorter payment times

September saw the biggest month-on-month improvement in business payment trends since December 2007, according to the latest data from Experian. On average, businesses in Great Britain were paying their bills 2.06 days earlier during September compared to August – from 23.60 to 21.54 days. The IT sector saw the biggest improvement, down 43.7 percent year-on-year, while the property sector overtook the postal and telecommunications sector as the sector with the worst payment record, paying bills 34.01 days beyond terms.

UK confidence up

Confidence among British businesses has reached its highest for 18 months but concerns still remain, KPMG’s latest quarterly business confidence survey has found. More than half of the senior executives surveyed said they had seen “signs of recovery”, and the number of them seeing prospects for the economy as “bad” dropped to 24 percent, down from 54 percent in the previous quarter. However, one in five businesses continued to express “grave concerns” about a fall in demand in their products of services.

LEGAL

No growth for asset finance firms

Asset finance is one of the least likely legal practice areas to grow over the next six months, a survey has revealed. The survey, conducted by recruitment firm Nicholas Scott, said that while M&A and commercial litigation were growth areas, asset finance, pensions and employee benefits were not.

MIDDLE EAST

Buying cheaper than leasing?

The influx of used European construction equipment to the Middle East has presented leasing companies in the region with a sales challenge, as pre-owned plant prices have sunk low enough to make outright purchase attractive to companies. Habib Mikati, of regional leasing company Ejar Cranes and Equipment, admitted: “Now is the best time to invest and buy machines. Prices have come down and if companies have the money, it is worth buying.”

Daimler FS enters UAE

Daimler’s captive finance house has launched two joint ventures in the Middle East to offer Sharia-compliant finance products to buyers of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Daimler Financial Services set up the units – Mercedes-Benz Finance Middle East and Mercedes-Benz Leasing Middle East – in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz importers in the United Arab Emirates. A Daimler FS chief executive called the move “of high strategic importance”.

REMARKETING

LeasePlan selects BCA

LeasePlan has appointed BCA as managing partner for remarketing all of its vehicles in the UK. The three-year deal will see BCA handle over 30,000 units per year for the UK’s second biggest car lessor. BCA said it aims to deliver a multi-channel, cradle-to-grave remarketing strategy for LeasePlan, managing the entire remarketing process.

GE Capital auction a hit

Manheim’s first off-site auction in Italy for GE Capital sold over 170 vehicles, generating €1.3 million. The auction, held at GE Capital premises in Fiumicino, near Rome, was attended by more than 50 dealers and resulted in an 86 percent conversion rate, Manheim said. As a result of the successful auction, GE Capital has confirmed that two more off-site auctions will take place through Manheim before the end of the month.

ROLLING STOCK

Bologna metro system

Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo is reported to be in the running to finance the long-awaited underground system in Bologna. City major Flavio Delbono announced that financing for the rolling stock could involve leasing, which Intesa Sanpaolo’s Banca Infrastrutture Innovazione e Sviluppo, the group subsidiary for PPP projects, said it could provide. The total project – from building the network to acquiring the rolling stock – is estimated to cost around €500 million.

Thameslink rejection

The government has rejected a bid by an Angel Trains and Alstom consortium to build and finance trains for the £1.4 billion (€1.6 billion) Thameslink rail project. The decision was made just weeks before the government is due to announce the name of the winning consortium.

UNITED STATES

ELFA appoints board

The US Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) appointed a new chairman and board of directors. The board, which will serve during the next 12 months, will be chaired by Kenneth R Collins, the CEO of Susquehanna Commercial Finance. The other members of the board of directors include: Anthony Cracchiolo, US Bank Equipment Finance; Steve Grosso, CoActive Capital Partners; Lauren Hill, Mesirow Financial Consulting; Harry Kaplun, Frost Leasing; Anthony Pacchiano, ADP Commercial Leasing; and Richard L Ross, Summit Funding Group.

Mixed results

American lessors saw new business volumes fall by 30.9 percent year-on-year in September. Figures from the US Equipment Leasing and Finance Association revealed that month-to-month new business volume was up, however, growing 27 percent from August to September, from $3.7 billion (€2.5 billion) to $4.7 billion. Ralf Petta, ELFA’s interim president, called the figures “encouraging”.

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