Multi-brand dealers who want to conduct their leasing operations without manufacturer-owned leasing firms are often frustrated by complicated refinancing requirements.
Many dealerships also lack the necessary know-how and balk at the high cost -- estimated at 150,000 to 200,000 euros -- of starting up a leasing business. That's where Hamburg-based Albis Capital comes in with "The Leasing Factory."
For the customer, the dealership is positioned as the lease provider. The dealership itself can draw off the full financing margin, "between 5 percent and 8 percent of the sales price, depending on the contract," according to Max Kuehner, president of Albis Capital.
As refinancing partner, Albis becomes the owner of the vehicle and the contract. In this way, a dealership's books stay free of any financing costs, an enormous benefit for the dealer. The leasing business is handled with a turn-key software package called LISA that dealers buy with a one-time payment of 8,000 euros.
Large dealers are potential partners for Albis. So are independent leasing companies with at least 400 contracts and a leasing volume of 12 million to 15 million euros a year. More than anything, dealers appreciate a "financing option that is neutral to the balance sheet," said a dealer who handles a premium brand.
The dealer began refinancing his own leasing activities through the Albis subsidiary recently and says he has been earning more than he would have with his manufacturer's leasing operation.
Albis itself refinances leasing deals with so-called asset-backed securities, a form of securitization. In this case, the financing partner is the American investment bank Merrill Lynch. This is the first time that Merrill Lynch has participated in an asset-backed securities program in Germany.
Last year, vehicles and mobile equipment worth 42 billion euros were leased in Germany, an increase of 7.5 percent over 2003.
"Passenger cars accounted for 60 percent of that," said Kuehner.