28 Oct 21

Wheels, Donlen to merge, Athene main stakeholder

US-based vehicle leasing and management companies Wheels Inc. and Donlen, LLC have announced a merger, with financial services company Athene as the primary stakeholder. 

The new group, now boasting a larger product range and highly diversified customer base, will be offering a slew of enhanced mobility solutions for fleets of all sizes. Combined, they have some US$5bn in assets and is expected to be rated investment grade.

Wheels Chief Financial Officer Shlomo Crandus (pictured above - left) will lead the new company as CEO, and both the management team and Board of Directors will contain representatives from Donlen and Wheels. Donlen CEO Tom Callahan (pictured above - right) will become a senior executive and board member of the combined company.

"We at Donlen have always had great respect for the team at Wheels, and the combination of these two businesses should further the companies' long-standing goal of providing our customers with best-in-class service. I am looking forward to working with the collective teams to ensure that the strong legacy of success that both Wheels and Donlen have built continues as a combined organization," says Mr. Callahan.

"Today's announcement is about bringing together two best-in-class fleet management platforms to better serve the growing number of businesses that recognize the financial and operational benefits of outsourcing their fleet and mobility solutions. Together we can invest in innovative services and technology and deliver a world-class experience to more clients around the globe. We are excited by the opportunities that lie ahead to grow the business with a strong partner like Athene," says Mr. Crandus.

"Since inception, Wheels has prided itself on providing solutions to meet the evolving needs of our clients. I am incredibly proud of what our team has achieved, and I am equally impressed by the reputation Donlen has built as a fleet manager. Today's announcement is just the beginning of an exciting journey ahead for these companies," added the current CEO of Wheels Inc, Dan Frank (pictured above - center) and the upcoming vice-chairman of the new group.

While Wheels has a portfolio of more than 325,000 vehicles under management across the continent with capabilities in 56 countries, Donlen - with nearly 300,000 vehicles - will support with its expertise in innovative fleet management technology solutions and its proactive, hands-on approach to customer service.

Athene, through its subsidiaries, is a leading retirement services company with total assets of approximately $216 billion. (June, 2020). 

"This transaction follows our longstanding strategy to invest in businesses with strong fundamentals, underwriting and direct origination capabilities, and the combined platform is expected to be rated investment grade. Over time, we see opportunities to invest in the combined company and look forward to partnering with the management team to help position the business for long-term success," says Athene Chairman and CEO Jim Belardi.

In related news, global Car-as-a-Service provider LeasePlan has announced that its shareholders and LeasePlan are holding discussions with multinational vehicle leasing and mobility firm ALD Automotive and Société Générale concerning a potential combination of LeasePlan and ALD to create a global mobility leader. 

Currently, ALD Automotive has a global alliance with Wheels Inc. along with other partner companies around the world.

For a full-rounded snapshop of the vehicle leasing and fleet management companies accross the globe, download the latest Global Fleet e-book on the topic. 

Authored by: Daniel Bland