Decency reigns

For my money, right now, De Lage Landen is the most likeable
company in European leasing.

How many of you, after all, take part in corporate
responsibility in a proactive way, and also discuss it publicly?
Judging from the shortage of press releases we receive on this
subject, not many.

One feather in DLL’s cap is that it does both of these things.
Recent examples of such good behaviour include: the establishment
of a committee that looks at socially responsible leasing, the
drawing-up of a policy on green leasing, and the issuing of 450
re-useable mugs to 450 members of DLL staff. In the US all its
projects have “LEED certification”, which means independent
assessors have deemed them to be, besides other things,
environmentally responsible.

What other things are making De Lage Landen so likeable these
days? For one thing, it is not resting on its laurels. A quick scan
of the deals it has completed and acquisitions it has made of late
is impressive by most people’s standards. Last month, for instance,
it launched an office in Portugal, acquired two Hungarian business
from Siemens Financial Services – Siemens Leasing Kft and Siemens
Finance Zrt – signed a global financing agreement with Lely
Industries, a robotic milking equipment manufacturer, and announced
that it is now providing financing to the Russian operations of
Schmitz Cargobull AG. DLL provides financing for all of Schmitz’s
European business via the German trailer company’s captive company,
Cargobull Finance. It also recently acquired the Norwegian lease
broker, IT Finans.

So much for the good stories. The list of victims from the
fall-out of the credit crunch continues to grow. The latest scalp
in asset finance has been The Funding Corporation (see Bar
Cap’s Funding Corporation closes AF arm
).

However, not all asset finance closures of late have been caused
by the economic environment. Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander,
for instance, announced recently that it was exiting asset finance
and commodity trade finance, not because of any liquidity issues
that had forced it to pull the plug, rather because it considered
its leasing arm, which Kaupthing inherited from Singer &
Friedlander when it bought put the UK company in August 2006, to be
non core.

The future sale of the asset finance business, which has a
portfolio worth £102m, almost double of what it was in 2005, will
help free up much needed cash for the parent.

Despite the credit crunch, it seems, asset finance is still, all
in all, a decent industry to be in.