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August 1, 2009updated 12 Apr 2017 4:34pm

Transport and construction equipment finance: two sectors in the doldrums

Drops in freight volumes connected to GDP decline have caused a demand crash that has played havoc with residual values, while postponed investments from customers have dented new business volumes across the continent.

By Fred Crawley

Add to this arrears and recovery
issues, and you have a grim picture indeed.

Those hit hardest seem to be those
countries most recently acclaimed for speed of growth.

In Turkey, the first quarter saw CV
leasing business butchered from €97 million to €8 million, while
Romanian lessor Impuls reported HGV business was down 80
percent.

Meanwhile, Poland’s crisis in
international road freight virtually dragged down the entire
leasing industry, despite less severe losses in other sectors.

Dieter Schiedl, head of Raiffeisen
Leasing International, reflecting on a tough first half in the CEE
region, said that “at least there has been a cleaning process –
there was an oversupply caused by a boom in transport in preceding
years, and I think one can assume the market is cleaned up now.

“Any transport company remaining now
can most probably overcome the next challenging months.”

Indeed, on the Latvian/Russian border
where truck lines plummeted from 1,000 vehicles to none at the
start of the year, the queues are beginning to build again.

Nevertheless, the secondary market
continues to pose problems. According to Reet Hääl, head of the
Estonian leasing association, there are “many, many trucks and
trailers [which have come off lease] which are waiting to be
sold”.

Former rapid growth economies have
also been stung by construction slumps, with Turkey again taking a
beating with a €172 million to €45million year-on-year drop in
construction equipment finance and Polish crane lessors punished by
a complete lack of resale options.

But even in mature markets such as
Spain and the UK, a halt in residential construction in particular
has laid waste to sales of smaller contractor’s plants.

During 2008, sustained construction
investment in the Middle East provided a resale lifeline for
lessors tackling recoveries in the UK and Ireland.

However, with activity in Dubai
dwindling by the day, many bank-owned cranes may be doomed to wait
in stock for European construction to get back on its feet
again.

Fred Crawley

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