Paul Barker's blog: 21 April - GE's UK leasing division faces uncertain future
21 April 2015
The announcement that GE Capital is jettisoning its worldwide financial businesses, which will include its UK leasing arm GE Capital Fleet Services, a top 10 of player in the UK's vehicle leasing market, brings a hint of uncertainty to a sector that had been settling down into a pattern of growth after the harsh years of recession.
It's turning into an interesting time at the sharp end of leasing, with plenty going on with the bigger players.
Lex Autolease is in the middle of a targeted 100,000-vehicle expansion, and negotiations were only recently halted regarding a change of ownership at Leaseplan. Smaller significant players are also seeking to grow, such as Marshall Leasing, which recently raised funds through a flotation, and Ogilvie, which gained new funding through HSBC
Others making big investments in infrastructure include Hitachi Capital and VW Financial Services, which have both recently moved to purpose-built new headquarters, something Alphabet will also be doing in the next 18 months or so, when it moves in with BMW and its financial services division.
But the GE uncertainty, which could go on for two years depending on how quickly a buyer can be found for a large financial institution of which car leasing is just one arm, isn't helpful for the company in the long term, or for customers entering into agreements. Private equity acquisition would seem to be a logical route, unless one of the leasing giants fancies making a very significant statement.
But the question remains as to what will happen if a buyer isn't found. The countdown has now started to sort out the future for one of the UK's biggest leasing names