Picture of Roddy Graham, commercial director, Leasedrive VeloInvestec Capital
Markets has acquired Masterlease UK, the country’s 12th-largest
contract hire company, from Ally Financial (formerly GMAC) for an
undisclosed sum.

As part of the deal, the
operations of the business will be run by up-and-coming fleet
manager Leasedrive Velo Group, which as a result will virtually
triple its fleet size from 15,200 to more than 40,000.

The resulting business will
be by some margin the largest privately owned fleet management
business in the UK, and will boast customers such as Capgemini,
Ericsson and several FTSE 100 businesses.

The acquisition represents
the next step in an active strategy by Investec to increase the
size of its UK asset finance book, which has seen the South
African-owned player make two other UK purchases in the past nine

Leasedrive Velo itself has a
strong track record in M&A, having been formed through a
speedily completed merger between Leasedrive and Velo in January

Managing Director David Bird
said he expected the integration of Masterlease to progress
“seamlessly” along similar lines.

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According to Leasedrive
Velo’s commercial director Roddy Graham, the company had been
talking to GMAC about a possible merger with Masterlease “quite
some time ago”, but had seen discussions slow down due to the
changes occurring for GMAC in the US.

“In the early part of this
year,” he said, “it became clear that GMAC was keen to leave the
full service contract hire sector, and what amounted to an auction
process began.”

As the sale effort
intensified in early 2010, he continued, potential buyer Investec
emerged and became aware of Leasedrive Velo’s previous discussions
with GMAC.

Before long, the two
companies were talking about a three party agreement.

Now, Investec will continue
to fuel the growth of the combined business through provision of
ongoing funding facilities.

Meanwhile, Leasedrive Velo
will take end-user risk, as well as leveraging its fleet management
expertise to manage day-to-day operations and new business



In a statement to customers,
Leasedrive Velo did not rule out the possibility of further
acquisitions in partnership with Investec.

“The fleet industry will
continue going through a process of consolidation, so should an
opportunity arise in the long-term future, which provides a good
fit with our overall business growth strategy, then as always we
would give it serious consideration” the statement said.

Based in Birmingham,
Masterlease UK has existed in some form since the 1960s.

After various ownership and name changes, the company took
on its current identity in May 2005, in line with GMAC’s global
leasing brand.