While 43 Blockers Lunch guests tucked into wholesome fare at Simpsons in the City, celebrating another good year of business, the rest of the leasing and asset finance industry were probably glued to the radio listening to George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, hoping to catch any snippets that might affect their industry. Their patience was finally rewarded, when George came to item 169 which said:
“The government will use unspent funding from the Business Finance Partnership to provide a further £250 million for the British Business Bank’s new schemes. Together with its existing budget, this will enable the British Business Bank to:
(i) invest in late stage venture capital funds which in turn invest in high growth potential SMEs
(ii) launch an innovative new scheme to support the provision of lease and asset finance
(iii) launch a programme of wholesale guarantees for SME loans."
Well, we suppose that a third share of an extra £250 million is not to be sneezed at, and the industry responded in an enthusiastic manner with messages of approval from many quarters.
The Finance & Leasing Association led the way with, “The Chancellor’s announcement coincides with new research by the Open University Business School which found that the majority of small businesses did not yet have the necessary equipment and technology needed to thrive over the next three years. The FLA’s own statistics shows growth in asset finance new business, and our confidence survey of the industry suggests this is likely to continue, so the new scheme is indeed timely and welcome.”
The NACFB took a broader view of measures to ease small business finance, statingread more...
Blockers predict “Fabulous 2014”
The Blockers Christmas Lunch is one of those leasing traditions, where lease brokers and funders who use block discounting lines congregate for a Christmas Lunch in an historic City of London tavern. We regularly report on the Blockers Lunch, and this year we thought we’d take a peek inside with our roving video camera, to give everyone a flavour of what goes on in this niche event.
Shaun Carroll of Hitachi Capital Business Finance organises the event, and we interviewd him for our video which for the first time takes viewers into the inner sanctum of one of the most difficult to get into events in the leasing calendar.
Forty-three guests, which is the maximum that the rickety second floor spot can take, come into the City from all over the UK, to network and natter over pints of London Pride, followed by the kind of lunch where torpedo-sized Cumberland sausages atop steak and kidney pies with lashings of gravy are the norm. For those on a “lite” lunch regime, the popular choice is ham, two fried eggs and a shovel-full of chips!
But it’s also a heart-warming event, with open banter yielding mines of information. It’s not all making merry, though, and brokers discuss business ad infinitum. On the question availability of block discounting lines, and the effect of new providers entering the market the overall response was that it was a good thing. Block discounting lines per se are in limited supply, so any new facilities will add growth to this market, and help brokers to build up their own book.
The final word from one table was that, “2014 is going to be Fabulous,” so roll on the New Year!
Mr Ashworth Amro-bound
ABN Amro is to formalise its cross-border leasing activities into the UK with the establishment of a full UK leasing entity, ABN Amro Lease. Not surprisingly, the target will be Britain’s under-served SME population. The new company is headed up by Mr George Ashworth, a veteran of UK SME asset finance, coming with his experience from Aldermore Asset Finance, and Lombard North Central. Frank Stienstra, chief executive officer of ABN Amro Lease NV said, “The UK represents an exciting growth opportunity for ABN AMRO Lease. George’s appointment clearly shows our ambition to become a serious player in this market.”
ABN Amro Lease NV is 24th in the European league table of asset finance providers according to Leaseurope rankings for 2012, with a portfolio of €3.2 billion, and will undoubtedly make an impact on the market, once it gains FCA clearance for its new leasing subsidiary in the new year . .read more...
Biggest block facility ever?
Investec Asset Finance has announced a £75 million committed block discounting facility to Leasedirect Finance Limited (“LDF”). It is believed to be the largest block discounting facility in the UK. The facility follows the sale of LDF to a fund managed by Cabot Square Capital LLP and reinforces both the continued relationship between Investec and LDF, as well as its ongoing commitment to providing funding to Professional Practices across the UK.
LDF is a leading provider in the Professions market, funding short term requirements to cover tax, insurance and certification bills, as well as receivables and asset finance. It is believed that they have a live client base of over 3,000 professions clients, which in 2012 generated £168 million of finance into this market. LDF funds itself partly own book, and partly through active broker relationships with a large number of funding partners.
Investec states that it, and the business’s management team, are proud of the transformation LDF has achieved over the past four years, and believe the acquisition by Cabot Square Capital LLP positions the business well to enter the next phase of its development.
Mike Francis, Managing Director of Investec Asset Finance said, “Investec is pleased to be an ongoing partner in LDF’s future and will continue to maintain its close relationship with the business and Cabot Square Capital LLP. The transaction provides Investec with an attractive return on its investment, enables it to remain an active funder in the Professions market and to direct resources to further new initiatives within UK asset finance.”
Osian Rees, Head of Block Discounting, Investec Asset Finance commented: “We believe the terms of the block discounting facility are unique in the UK market, both in terms of scale and sophistication, and demonstrate our ability and willingness to structure facilities to help our partners grow their business.”read more...
Another great NACFB Gala Dinner
Celebrating its coming of age, this year’s NACFB Gala Dinner 2013 celebrated 21 years of the association’s existence, and the celebrations were carried out in the NACFB’s characteristic splendid style. Some 570 guests attended, with tables typically taken either by broker funders, or broker firms.
The NACFB is a broad church, and the awards spanned 10 areas of financing, two of them related to asset finance, Asset Funder of the Year and Vehicle Finance Provider of the Year.
Asset Funder was won by Investec Asset Finance, and Vehicle Finance Provider was won by Close Brothers Asset Finance.
The other categories fared as follows, and all credit to the Challenger banks for being up there in the shortlists against the big beasties like Barclays, Lloyds and Santander:
Business Bank of the Year - Lloyds / Most Innovative Lender of the Year - Shawbrook
Factor and Invoice Discounter of the Year - Bibby / Most Supportive Lender of the Year - Aldermore
Short-Term Funder of the Year - United Trust Bank / Specialist Lender of the Year - Funding Circle
There is a lot more to the NACFB Gala Dinner than the awards though, firstly there’s the charity element, over 12 thousand pounds was raised for Starlight, which tries to brighten the lives of seriously and terminally ill children.
Then there are the speeches, first from Chairman Marcus Grimshaw, and regular appearances of CEO Adam Tyler. Then there’s the music, this year EastEnders’ star Shaun Williamson and his band, and then there’s the comedian, this year Rory Bremner. Now he can be seriously funny, we liked the one about the three Milibands, Ed, David, and one you don’t much hear from these days, Glen Miliband (don’t get it? Glenn Miller Band).
The word Miliband reminded Bremner of the internet, as Miliband sounded like something BT might be offering. Sadly, Cameron and Clegg do not make for good impersonations, there’s nothing exceptional about them in voice or catchphrases, and it was difficult to raise laughs taking either of them off, but Bremner still had some fun at the expense of the inimitable Nigel Farage, and familiar standby,Tony Blair (who?).
Enough is enough?
In a recent LeasingWorld editorial, we were bemoaning the continuing stream of dark and dodgy news emanating from the banking sector. We had been stunned that on one day, the FT’s headlines were carrying three stories of outrageous banking misdemeanors. Well, imagine our dismay when two days later the Large report on RBS came out, telling RBS they didn’t really know how to run their SME lending business, and hot on its heels the Lawrence Tomlinson report exposing the “over-enthusiastic” ushering of viable SMEs into GRG Block, which turned out to be a kind of knackers yard.
We tried to gain some positives from the continuing sorry saga of the Co-op Bank farce, the black hole, the buying of street cocaine, the dodgy CV, the FSA sign-off now a board member as well. Then, JP Morgan paying a fine of $13 billion for duping investors in some of their bonds, and then foreign exchange traders exposed as making trades on their own personal accounts before executing the clients’ orders, never mind the LIBOR monkey business, which we’re told to “move on” from.
Of course, we’d all heard of the anecdotal stories, of SMEs stitched up for expensive consultants’ reports, and high interest rates and fees, and the family firms wound up by nameless grey-suited clerks. And we are going to examine these two reports in detail for the next edition of Leasing World.
Is there anything positive to be drawn from this never-ending, dark and dodgy charge sheet? Yes, there must be, there has to be . .read more...
Asset finance win for Barclays
Barclays has announced a £600k asset finance loan for Stockport-based Windmill Tapes Limited, the manufacturers of printed tape and labels. The funding has enabled the company to purchase a new advanced, state of the art printing machine that will greatly improve efficiency and production capability.
The facility was arranged by Robin Richards, Relationship Director for Barclays Corporate in Manchester and Sarah Pickering, Relationship Director, Barclays’ asset finance team. Robin Richards said, “Windmill has proven resilient through the cycle and this is testament to their business model and the quality of the management team. The larger premises and this new machine will be crucial to help them deliver for their customers and continue on their successful growth journey.”
Andrew Southern (pictured middle at handover from supplier HP Indigo) Managing Director of Windmill Tapes Limited, said, “We are genuinely excited by the prospects for growth in our business which is why we are in the process of moving to larger premises, investing in new machinery like this new printer
Syscap goes Pink for charity
Syscap has raised £7,500 for Breast Cancer Awareness’ ‘Wear it Pink’ day. Urging their colleagues to wear pink to work, the Syscap team raised £2,500 in just 10 days. This was possible thanks to the generosity of staff, partners and friends who contributed prizes and purchased tickets for the ‘Pink Raffle’. The amount raised will be trebled by the company’s charity arm, The Syscap Foundation, taking the donation to a grand total of £7,500.
Cancer Research’s annual Wear it Pink day encourages friends and colleagues to join forces, have fun and wear something pink. The Syscap staff made a great effort, with flamboyant outfits and some very striking wigs. John Allbrook, Chairman of Syscap and Director of The Syscap Foundation says: “Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women, and this year, over 50,000 women will be diagnosed with the disease. “We are big supporters of Breast Cancer Awareness, which does an amazing job in helping the sufferers and their families through often very difficult times, as well as helping women to spot the symptoms and get the early, critical diagnosis that could save their lives. We were very pleased to have raised £7,500 to help them in their vital work.”
The Syscap Foundation was established in 2007, with aim of supporting worthy local and national charities. For every business transactions made at Syscap £1 is donated to the Foundation. Additional funds are raised internally through sponsored staff activities.read more...
Leaseurope Index slips again
Total new leasing volumes for Q3 2013 reported by Leaseurope’s sample of firms was €16 billion, a deterioration on the volumes reported in Q3 2012. In fact there has been a general trend of decline in new business since the start of the Index time series. The portfolio of outstanding contracts decreased (-3.3 percent), as did risk-weighted assets (-2.8 percent).
Marie-Christine Ducholet, CEO of Societe Generale Equipment Finance, commented, “The European leasing industry has been dealing with a difficult economic environment. European business investment has continued to contract and is expected to fall by 2 percent in 2013. As we draw closer to year end, it is however reassuring to note that this trend is at last expected to reverse in 2014 and we can finally hope to put this drawn-out crisis behind us. The decrease in the Leaseurope Index cost/income ratio in Q3 is encouraging and speaks to the strength and flexibility of leasing business models. We can therefore expect to see improvements for the leasing industry going forward.”
2nd global Operating Lease conference gains plaudits
Over 100 delegates attended the Amembal & Associates second annual Operating Lease Conference which was held in Istanbul on November 21 and 22, 2013. The conference was chaired by Mr. Sudhir Amembal, CEO of Amembal & Associates, who is known as a leading lease educator, worldwide. The day prior to the conference, Mr. Amembal conducted a one-day workshop on operating leases.
The conference is the only event in the leasing industry solely dedicated to the operating lease. It was attended by 34 leasing companies from 15 countries throughout the world. Nineteen speakers and panelists from both mature and emerging lease economies presented varied topics having to do with the intricacies of the operating lease.
“Congratulations on how well it was organized; and, above all, on how well it was chaired by Mr. Amembal.” Alain Vervaet, Managing Director, NV FEADON, Belgium and ex-CEO of ING Lease Holding, Netherlands.read more...
Leasing Foundation’s first research project launched
The Asset Finance Observatory is a newly-formed network of industry-based researchers associated with the Leasing Foundation, who develop and use research driven by the industry’s needs. Its first workshop, supported by Siemens Financial Services, will be held in London on 29 November 2013.
The workshop’s first project is a qualitative, pan-European piece of research that looks at SME perceptions of asset finance products, and the decision-making that surrounds them. Professor Peter Thomas, the Foundation’s COO and expert on customer experience research, explains, “Numerous studies of SMEs and finance brokers have confirmed that even though asset-based finance is clearly beneficial for SMEs, the takeup of these products is still low. These studies suggest that negative perceptions of asset based finance providers as ‘lenders of last resort’ are commonplace, and that small businesses simply aren’t aware of alternative financing options.read more...
‘Nice improvement’ at CSI
CSI Leasing, Inc. (“CSI”) announced that new lease origination topped $829 million worldwide in fiscal year 2013, up nearly 15 percent from the previous fiscal year. Total assets were up 5.5 percent and net income was up 8.7 percent compared to the prior fiscal year ending June 30. CSI also added 80 new employees worldwide, an increase of more than 10 percent.read more...
GE Capital helps Exopack
GE Capital has announced a cross-border financing package worth $250 million to Exopack Group, one of the world’s leading suppliers of rigid and flexible packaging. The deal will consolidate existing funding arrangements and establish a global working capital financing facility covering France, Germany, the UK and the USA, to support the future development of the business.read more...
Free Download of IAS17 standard
For those who wonder if the new accounting for leases ED will ever get to be the standard, here's a free download of good old IAS17 for reference, as well as a reminder of how sweet and reasonable IAS17 is. Download the IAS17 standard for Leases HERE.read more...
Cassiopae in German acquisition
Cassiopae has announced that Singhammer dtSoftware GmbH is now a Cassiopae company. The combined company becomes one of the largest providers of leasing and lending software solutions in the region and expands Cassiopae’s coverage in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.
“The Singhammer brand is highly respected,” said Emmanuel Gillet, Cassiopae President. “By joining together, we reinforce Cassiopae’s presence in the region and add knowledgeable, highly experienced local resources. We also add new clients who may be able to leverage Cassiopae’s scale and international expertise.” With over 50 existing clients and an excellent reputation, Singhammer is well-positioned for further growth.read more...