Daimler, which makes Mercedes luxury cars and trucks, has agreed to buy Dutch car leasing firm Athlon for €1.1 billion, or $1.2 billion, from Rabobank of the Netherlands, the Stuttgart-based automaker said Friday.
With the purchase, the German carmaker will triple the number of cars it leases to 340,000 from 85,000 and offer services in 14 European countries.
“Fleet management is a growth market and this acquisition of a strongly positioned and innovative fleet management company is a key step for us in becoming a leading fleet management services provider,” Bob Uebber, Daimler’s chief financial officer, said in a statement.
Daimler’s car leasing unit, Daimler Fleet Management, and Athlon offer leased cars of all brands. The German carmaker’s leasing operations in future will carry the Athlon brand, Daimler said.
Daimler’s decision to throw resources into the leasing business will likely increase competition for other major players, including BMW’s fleet operations called Alphabet, Sixt Leasing, a unit of Germany’s biggest car rental firm Sixt, and Volkswagen Leasing, which has around 1.2 million vehicles and calls itself Europe’s largest car leasing firm.
BMW bought car leasing operations from Dutch bank ING in 2011 for €700 million, adding 240,000 cars to BMW’s 300,000 leased cars in operation at the time.
Daimler leases cars to beer maker Anheuscher-Busch InBev, airplane maker Airbus, chemicals firm Bayer and other companies.
Daimler’s shares were up 1 percent €54.06 by 11:37 a.m. in Frankfurt, trailing stronger gains by rivals Volkswagen and BMW, which rose 3.6 percent and 1.8 percent respectively.