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13 Jun 22

LeasePlan USA joins Wheels Donlen family

Athene Holding, the parent company of Wheels Donlen, will acquire LeasePlan USA. Both will be combined to create a unified fleet management business in North America. The announcement was made by LeasePlan Corporation, after it had signed a Stock Purchase Agreement to that effect with Athene. 

In a way, this merger is the product of two other mergers.

  • In October 2021, Wheels and Donlen, two of the main fleet management providers in North America, announced that they would merge within Athene. The combined company has $5 billion in assets, and manages more than 500,000 vehicles for more than 1,000 corporate clients across North America. 
  • In January 2022, ALD announced that it would acquire LeasePlan, creating a leading global player in mobility. At that time, it was expected that these two mergers would lead to further realignment within the global leasing and mobility ecosystem.

Pre-existing partnership

Following the first merger, Athlon – until then Donlen’s European partner – announced that it would henceforth focus on the European market. Instead, the merged company Donlen Wheels is continuing the pre-existing global partnership of Wheels and ALD - as it has again confirmed today.  

In that constellation, collaboration between Donlen Wheels and LeasePlan USA makes more sense than competition. And that collaboration has now taken shape as an acquisition. This draws a clear distinction between ALD-LeasePlan’s operations in Europe (and elsewhere in the world) and those of Donlen Wheels and LeasePlan USA (which will focus mainly on North America). 

To put this acquisition in context: in 2021, LeasePlan USA represented about 2.7% of LeasePlan’s total revenues. The addition of its fleet to that of Donlen Wheels will result in a total of nearly 800,000 vehicles. 

"Strong competitor"

Combining Wheels Donlen and LeasePlan USA will create “a strong competitor in mobility, (providing) enhanced solutions to corporate fleets”, LeasePlan Corporation said in a statement.

The merged company will certainly benefit from added scale, increased investment capacity, and differentiated capabilities. Those are all factors which will allow the as-yet-unnamed company to better position itself in a mobility landscape increasingly characterized by electrification and digitization.

Athene, an investment company with $246 billion in assets, will be able to provide the new company with capital to enhance its solutions across fleet, last-mile delivery, trucking and equipment. 

Measured integration

Both Wheels Donlen and LeasePlan USA have decades’ worth of fleet management expertise, offering best-in-class customer service, driving customer success. Integration of both companies will be a measured process, with Athene opting to prioritise seamless and enhanced customer experience and continuity of the systems that customers are familiar with. 

Both senior management and the Board of Directors of the new company will include people from Wheels Donlen and LeasePlan USA. Matt Dyer, CEO of LeasePlan USA, will become a senior executive and board member. Who will lead the combined company, has not yet been announced. 

Cooperation agreement

In addition to this merger, LeasePlan USA and LeasePlan Corporation will sign a Cooperation Agreement, ensuring the continuity of fleet management services to the international clients of both companies – throughout and beyond the completion of the acquisition by Athena. Similarly, the existing global alliance between Wheels Donlen and ALD will also continue. 

“The subscription megatrend and the digital revolution mean the US leasing market is about to enter a period of accelerated growth and transformation. By joining forces with Wheels Donlen, LeasePlan USA will have the scale and investment firepower necessary to serve its growing customer base and accelerate the future of mobility for American drivers”, says Tex Gunning, CEO of LeasePlan. 

“LeasePlan has built a terrific business in the US that we are excited to integrate with the Wheels Donlen platform, adding complementary capabilities that will provide clients with an even broader suite of mobility solutions", says Wheels Donlen CEO Shlomo Crandus. 

"Leading role"

“LeasePlan USA is a growing force in the US market and now, as part of Wheels Donlen, we have the opportunity to expand our mobility platform (…) In addition, thanks to our Cooperation Agreement with LeasePlan, customers with fleets outside the US will continue to access the high-quality international fleet management services they have come to expect", says Matt Dyer, CEO of LeasePlan USA.

“We have high conviction in the growing mobility market and the leading role that the combined Wheels Donlen-LeasePlan USA can play in serving companies’ fast-evolving fleet needs", says Jim Belardi, CEO of Athene.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of this year, and is subject to the usual closing conditions, including regulatory approval. 

Image: LeassePlan USA

Authored by: Frank Jacobs