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ING in talks to sell Car Lease

Date: 24 June 2011

Dutch bank ING is looking to sell its car leasing arm in a deal reported to be worth £3.6 billion.

In a statement from its Netherlands headquarters, the company confirmed the sale of ING Car Lease as a possible option, stating that it is "currently reviewing strategic alternatives, including discussions with third parties interested in a potential acquisition" for the vehicle leasing branch.

However, it continued that these deliberations "may or may not lead to a transaction".

ING Car Lease UK managing director Ian Tilbrook, who was number 21 in BusinessCar's Power List 2010, refused to comment further on the announcement. The firm is ranked number 9 in BusinessCar's top 50 leasing companies, with 47,615 vehicles on its books; across Europe it has 240,000.

"ING continuously evaluates and optimises its business portfolio, in line with its stated Back to Basics objectives of sharpening its focus and reducing complexity," said an ING spokesman explaining the potential sale.

Possible buyers GE Capital, Arval, Alphabet and Leaseplan declined to comment on whether they had been in talks with ING about an acquisition.

Speculation has previously tied GE Capital to a buyout of Lombard, and although this has not been confirmed, this would most

likely rule out a deal with ING. Meanwhile, Alphabet which is expanding aggressively, recently announced a new management team that gives it "the right platform on which to build the next phase of its growth through continued investment in our people and systems", the firm said. This suggests its attention is more focused on organic growth than acquisitions.

Despite the recent announcement by ING about its car leasing arm, a leading UK leasing company source said rival firms had been approached about an acquisition over the previous months with no deal being agreed. The source speculated that the fresh statement from the Dutch bank might be to drive up a purchase price from a potential buyer in a new round of negotiations.

In February this year, ING Car Lease UK appointed Mark Cubbon as director of sales. At the time the firm said Cubbon's priorities would include developing new business, continuing ING's growth in the public sector and focusing on areas such as fleet finance and salary sacrifice schemes.

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