Ryder group logo Commercial vehicle hire company Ryder has expanded its UK
business with the acquisition of truck rental firm Hill Hire from
Lloyds Banking Group, in a deal worth £154m (€172m).

Lloyds, which ran Hill Hire within
its asset finance business, said the sale is part of its plan to
get rid of non-core assets. Regulators told the bank to reduce its
balance sheet and sell off assets in the wake of the financial
crisis.

Ryder will take over Hill Hire’s 13
UK depots, as well as about 4,000 HGVs and other equipment. It will
also take on Hill Hire’s 297 employees.

Ryder Europe vice-president and
managing director David Hunt said the acquisition would compliment
their existing business.

“We have a straight truck base and
Hill Hire is one of the major players in tractors and trailers,”
Hunt added.

“When we have talked to customers
previously they said they would like us to be doing more tractor
and trailer business.”

The European unit of
US-headquartered Ryder has 23 UK locations, working with the public
sector to provide rental vehicles and maintenance.

The deal will mean Ryder Europe
will have a fleet of more than 10,000 HGVs, as well as more than
5,000 customers.

Hill Hire became part of Lloyds in
1999 through an acquisition by Capital Bank, part of Bank of
Scotland.

Hunt said Hill Hire was in more
robust health following Lloyds’ takeover of Bank of Scotland since
it was focused on revenue growth.

He added that Ryder intends to
continue that strategy, growing Hill Hire by 20% over the next two
to three years.

Hunt added Lloyds had created a
strong brand with Hill Hire and good base of quality customers and
described the acquisition as a “compelling opportunity”.

Hunt believes Ryder and Hill Hire
being independent of the banks creates further opportunity for
growth.

He said: “However hard the UK banks
try to provide funding we know there is not going to be the same
level of funding as there had been previously, especially with
Basel III [the capital adequacy regulation for banks].

“Some of our competitors aren’t
necessarily going to have credit as available as we do. And as
capital becomes rationed for some of our customers, they can look
[to us].

“This puts us in a unique position
in the UK of being able to provide competitive funding and service
in the UK.

“We believe there is space for a
successful independent [fleet rental company] and we believe our
brand and service differentiates us from the competition.

“We want to be one of the best – that is the company
strategy.”