The Executive Board of GFKL Financial Services AG has resolved that, in future, the Group will focus on its core business areas of Collection (debt recovery / factoring) and Software, both of which have demonstrated strong growth and large margins to date.
Around 1,500 people are currently employed by GFKL in these two areas. Servicing receivables worth over 20 billion euro, GFKL is already one of Germany's leading collection service providers.
Explaining the GFKL Group's future orientation, Dr. Peter Jänsch says: "Our Collection and Software divisions are enjoying annual growth of over 30 percent and have a healthy profit margin of more than 20 percent. By pulling out of the leasing business, liquidity of around 150 million euro will be freed up, putting us in a position to exploit growth opportunities in the profitable collection services market even more in future. With the full backing of our shareholders we can now put all our strength into acquiring further market share".
Factoring is also an important element of the collections service business and is of strategic importance. In September 2008 Universal Factoring GmbH was selected by WestLB AG as its factoring service partner.
Dr. Peter Jänsch, Chairman of the Executive Board of GFKL Financial Services AG, explains why the company has decided to shed the leasing business: "Financial market conditions have changed so greatly that they will have a lasting negative impact on our leasing business's figures. At the same time, current shifts in the financial markets offer specialised service providers such as GFKL particularly good growth opportunities in collection services for banks and insurance, GFKL's main clients".
Dr. Jänsch says that, furthermore, because of the pressure it is putting on the balance sheet the leasing business is also affecting GFKL's equity and is therefore restricting future growth in the more profitable business areas of Collection and Software.
The previously announced sale of the loss-making leasing business in Spain has already been concluded. GFKL's Spanish subsidiary, Seville-based Universal Lease Iberia with 100 employees and a fleet of around 15,000 vehicles, has been sold to ING Car Lease Spain. Explaining the reasons for the sale Dr. Jänsch says: "GFKL was operating the business in Spain with open residual values - renting. Today, unlike a year ago, these residual values have to be underpinned with so much equity that continuing the business was no longer cost-effective for GFKL".
GFKL will also be shedding the German leasing activities of its subsidiary Universal Leasing GmbH. Negotiations are currently underway with a potential buyer with regard to a large part of the German leasing business (southern and western regions). The leasing business in the northern and eastern regions, which employs around 50 people, will be discontinued by the end of the year. Speaking about this decision Dr. Jänsch said: "We are responding to the worsening of the refinancing situation in the capital markets. Existing credit agreements will all be met and the existing leasing business will continue to be managed as before over the next few years, but new business will be discontinued gradually up to the end of the year".
The Executive Board intends to sell further leasing business in the Netherlands and the UK by the end of the year.
At present it is not possible to make any precise forecasts of the Group's annual results. For 2008 overall we are expecting a very positive operational result in the core business areas of Collection and software.