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ING bags Appleyard to make 43,000 fleet

Date: 12 July 2006

A new major power has been created in the UK leasing market, with ING Car Lease agreeing a deal to buy Appleyard Vehicle Contracts.

ING, previously ranked number 23 in the UK, sees its fleet size rocket from 16,000 to more than 43,000 as a result of the deal, putting it on the verge of the top 10 leasing companies, around 1000 units behind 10th placed BT Fleet.

"This gives us good leverage we've not had before, and it's good that we've done it in one big transaction," ING Car Lease UK boss Ian Tilbrook told Fleet Week. "We've shown good recent growth ourselves, and now we've jumped a league."

The public sector is a particular goal for the new larger ING. "We've built our business on corporate clients, Appleyard's

customer base is more diverse They have high corporate volume, but also significant experience in the public sector," said Tilbrook. "That's the market we've not had much expertise in, and with government spending in the public sector, the industry is seeing growth in that sector."

Tilbrook wouldn't be drawn on the company's long-term ambitions, though a place in the top 10 seems a certainty as he pointed toward both leasing firms' recent "good organic growth". The ING boss also refused to comment on whether ING is looking to make further acquisitions.

The amalgamation of a larger, 27,000 vehicle fleet into ING will be a challenge. "I'm taking responsibility for the integration, but at for moment it's business as usual," said Tilbrook. "At the moment we've got two fine businesses working independently, we've got a lot to learn about Appleyard. There will be some things we can integrate quickly, and some, such as systems, take longer."

Appleyard, the larger of the two fleets, will retain its name and stay in its Leeds office with its 115 staff for the foreseeable future, despite ING being based in Bracknell, Berkshire.

"We've got high-quality offices in Leeds and Bracknell, I see no reason why we would need less than two offices, we've got no intention of closing either branch," said Tilbrook.

Appleyard was ranked as the UK's number 14 lease company under its previous owners Jardine Motor Group and Barclays Mercantile Business Finance. Neither party is disclosing the financial details of the deal.