LeasePlan: market leader in both size and strategy
The merger of LeasePlan and ALD Automotive will have a profound impact on the fleet and lease world, both in Europe and beyond. And not just because of LeasePlan’s size, also for its influential strategic choices, especially in terms of remarketing, digitalisation and sustainability. How did the Dutch leasing and vehicle management provider become such a valuable – and valued – global player?
With revenue close to €10 billion in 2020, a global fleet of about 1.9 billion 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 (from the Netherlands and Denmark), two sovereign wealth funds (from Singapore and the UAE), and London-based private equity firm TDR Capital, the lead shareholder.
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 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. Three areas come to mind:
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. In July 2021, CarNext was separated from its parent company and in October of that year, it was acquired by Constellation, parent company of used-vehicle auctioneers BCA.
The deal helped propel LeasePlan to a record net result of €1 billion in 2021. CarNext and LeasePlan said they would continue their privileged relationship – which will likely continue in the new company.
LeasePlan is committed to being 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 fleet completed its transition to BEVs by 2022.
How will the merger with ALD impact the two companies’ divergent sustainability strategies? Will the adopt one or the other, or split the difference?
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 years 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 merger with ALD, industry watchers – and especially fleet customers – are now asking that same question, with added emphasis.
Originally published on 1 November 2021. Updated on 16 February 2023.
Picture credit: LeasePlan.
This article is part of the ALD & LeasePlan merger story.
Want to read more? Check out these other features.