Stuart leaves VW Credit to become CEO of TD Auto

Stuart: Says he “left VW Credit of my own accord to pursue a compelling new career opportunity."
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WASHINGTON -- Andrew Stuart, the CEO of captive finance arm Volkswagen Credit Inc., is leaving to become TD Bank’s auto-lending chief, the bank said today.

Stuart, 47, who has led VCI since January 2012, left to “pursue new opportunities” outside the company, Volkswagen Group of America CEO Michael Horn wrote on Wednesday in an e-mail to U.S. dealers that was obtained by Automotive News.

His departure is effective July 15, a spokesman said. Christian Dahlheim, the finance arm’s CFO, will lead the organization until a permanent CEO is named.

TD Bank said later on Wednesday that Stuart would become CEO of its U.S. auto-lending division, which was the 13th largest retail auto lender in the fourth quarter of 2013 with a 1.3 percent market share, according to Experian Automotive.

VCI offers floor plan financing to VW and Audi dealers and underwrites new-car loans and leases. It did not make Experian’s top 20 with a market share of less than 1 percent, but said its total assets grew by 14 percent in 2013 to a record $23.6 billion.

The captive lender ranked near the bottom of J.D. Power’s annual financing satisfaction study last July, coming in 24th out of 32 lenders for prime retail credit, 10th out of 13 lenders for retail leasing and 13th out of 13 lenders for floorplan lending.

It performed better on the consultancy’s annual consumer satisfaction study. VW Credit ranked 2nd of 19 in customer satisfaction among mass-market lenders, behind only Kia Motors Finance, while Audi Financial Services ranked 4th of 12 lenders among providers of luxury-car financing.

TD Auto's new course

TD Auto Finance said earlier this year it was changing its strategy from fast growth to slower growth, and said it would trim the number of its dealer relationships this year by an unspecified number.

The bank said in May it was "exploring" whether to get into the subprime segment, but Mark Chauvin, chief risk officer, said in a conference call in May it was "focusing more on super-prime."

The bank hit a high of more than 9,000 U.S. dealers earlier this year, roughly triple the number of dealers it had when Toronto-based TD Bank Group bought the former Chrysler Financial in 2011.

Chrysler Financial lost its preferred-lender relationship with the Chrysler Group as a result of Chrysler's U.S. government bailout and bankruptcy restructuring in 2009. The former captive finance company didn't stop making new auto loans completely, but it was shrinking when TD Bank bought it, as old loans were paid off faster than it made new loans.

As of the second fiscal quarter, which ended April 30, its total U.S. indirect auto loans outstanding totaled $15.7 billion, up from $14.1 billion a year earlier. When TD Bank bought the former Chrysler Financial, about $6.6 billion in auto loans came with it.

Jim Henry contributed to this report.

You can reach Gabe Nelson at gnelson@crain.com.


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