Merger ALD-LeasePlan: LeasePlan, when orange becomes green
The merger of LeasePlan and ALD Automotive would make huge waves in the fleet and lease world, both in Europe and beyond. How did the Dutch leasing and vehicle management provider become such a valuable – and valued – global player? A potted history.
With revenue close to €10 billion in 2020, a global fleet of about 1.8 million vehicles and a presence in 32 markets worldwide, LeasePlan is one of the world’s largest and most influential leasing and fleet management companies. It’s a journey that started barely six decades ago in the Netherlands, and that’s far from over yet.
LeasePlan was founded in 1963 as a joint venture between a bank and a company providing professional services for drivers. LeasePlan was one of the first companies to offer leases on vehicles in the Netherlands. Company founder and long-time CEO Anton Goudsmit and Huib van der Meulen, another LeasePlan pioneer, together developed ‘open calculation’, a concept based on transparency combined with advantageous financing.
In the 1970s, LeasePlan expanded into the neighbouring countries: Belgium, Germany, France, and the UK. In 1983, the company went intercontinental, opening up in the United States.
In 1985, Dutch bank ABN AMRO acquired the company, managed under the ABN AMRO Lease Holding. LeasePlan started diversifying, among others by offering online fleet management software. The company continued to expand, setting up shop in Australia in 1988.
In the early 2000s, LeasePlan went on an acquisition spree, adding fleet management companies such as Dial (UK, France, Italy) and CSC (US). Parent company ABN AMRO also merged its own leasing subsidiaries, Auto Lease Holland and Leaseconcept, with the LeasePlan Netherlands branch. In 2003, ABN AMRO Lease Holding was renamed LeasePlan Corporation.
In 2004, ABN AMRO sold LeasePlan Corporation for €2 billion to a consortium led by Volkswagen (50%), with minority stakes of 25% each for Olayan Group (Saudi Arabia) and Mubadale Development Company (UAE). In 2009, German banker Friedrich von Metzler acquired the two minority participations to become 50/50 shareholder in LeasePlan. For this purpose, his Fleet Investments BV created a joint venture with Volkswagen AG called Global Mobility Holding BV.
In 2015, Global Mobility Holding BV sold LeasePlan to its now-previous owners, LP Group BV, for €3.7 billion. LP Group B.V. is a consortium of long-term investors consisting of
- two pension funds:
- Stichting Pensioenfonds (formerly PGGM) from the Netherlands;
- Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension (ATP) from Denmark;
- two sovereign wealth funds:
- GIC Private Limited from Singapore;
- the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) from the UAE;
- and one private equity firm:
- TDR Capital, based in London – the lead shareholder in the consortium.
In October 2018, LeasePlan announced an IPO. The plan was to list its shares on the Euronext exchanges in Amsterdam and Brussels. The aim was to appeal to both retail and institutional investors in the Netherlands and Belgium. The targeted valuation was around €7.5 billion. However, a week after the announcement, the IPO was aborted – investor confidence at that time did not prove as high as had been hoped.
In April 2021, it was reported that both major lease company ALD and Spanish banking giant Banco Santander were both interested – separately – in acquiring LeasePlan. At that time, none of the parties wished to confirm or deny the report.
Over the years, LeasePlan has not only grown to become one of the largest fleet management companies in the world – and by some metrics the largest. It has also made some strategic choices that, through the sheer size of the company itself, have an impact on the leasing and mobility markets where it operates.
In 2017, LeasePlan set up CarNext.com as a digital remarketing platform – not just LeasePlan’s own ex-lease vehicles, but also for high-quality vehicles from third parties. Pan-European and online-first, CarNext.com allows private customers to source used vehicles to buy, finance or subscribe to. For professional buyers, there’s an online auction platform.
Until July 2021 LeasePlan positioned CarNext.com as its ‘other’ pillar, next to traditional leasing products (rebranded as ‘Cars-as-a-Service’). But at the start of the summer period CarNext raised €400 million to accelerate growth and was carved out from LeasePlan into a fully independent business, owned by a consortium of investors including TDR Capital (a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority), GIC, PGGM, ATP, and Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
LeasePlan is a trendsetter rather than a bystander when it comes to the transition to sustainable energy. That’s why the company has committed itself to achieving net-zero emissions from its funded fleet by 2030. Its own employee vehicles target complete transition to BEVs already by the end of this year.
Now how will the merger with ALD impact that strategy? Would this sustainability target be translated to the ALD fleet as well, or could the merger be a an interruption and obstacle in achieving the planned net-zero emissions?
LeasePlan is in the process of fully digitising the entire customer experience. This will enable it to benefit fully from the chances offered by innovation. For the advent of Big Data in automotive is opening up interesting avenues towards not only cost optimisation, but also new and improved products and services.
Over the past few year’s What’s Next has been LeasePlan’s tagline for many of its strategic decisions, such as the ones listed above. In light of LeasePlan’s possible new ownership structure, industry watchers – and especially fleet customers – are now asking that same question, with added emphasis.
Picture caption: LeasePlan has always been at the forfront of innovation. Today Sustainability is a key pillar, with LeasePlan's EV100 commitment to electrify its entire funded fleet by 2030.
Picture credit: LeasePlan.