Volkswagen in advanced talks to sell LeasePlan

Thursday, Jul 23, 2015

Volkswagen is in advanced talks to sell its 50 percent stake in financing arm LeasePlan as the carmaker cuts costs and refocuses its business, and a decision may be announced this week, people familiar with the matter said.

The Wolfsburg-based carmaker owns VW Leasing GmbH, its own in-house leasing business, and is increasingly relying on its Volkswagen Financial Services arm, making it harder to justify holding a stake in a third-party leasing business, LeasePlan.

The other 50 percent of Netherlands-based LeasePlan [LEASP.UL] is owned by German bank Metzler, which would also sell its stake in a potential deal.

The two owners earlier this year hired investment bank Rothschild [ROT.UL] to find a buyer for the business, which may be valued at roughly 3 billion euro ($3.3 billion), according to sources.

A bidding consortium including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), Singapore's Government Investment Corporation (GIC) and private equity company TDR Capital had emerged as the frontrunner to clinch a deal, while other consortiums had also handed in bids, the sources said at the time.

But Dutch banking regulators balked at the proposed deal structures, arguing bidders needed to show minimum requirements in capital and liquidity, a person familiar with the matter said.

"The sales process has now been re-started after solving the issues with the central bank," one of the sources said.

Any deal needs the approval of the Dutch central bank since LeasePlan operates a Dutch banking license. ING, which has a such license, has joined one of the bidder consortiums, the source said.

Another source said the consortium of ADIA, GIC and TDR was still seen as the most likely buyer of LeasePlan.

Volkswagen is aiming to make 5 billion euros of savings a year by 2017 at its namesake passenger car brand to close a profitability gap with rivals such as Toyota.

LeasePlan finances 1.42 million cars annually and in 2014 reported a net profit of 372 million euros.

Volkswagen, Metzler, ADIA, TDR Capital and the Dutch central bank declined to comment, while GIC and ING were not immediately available for comment.