Merrion Fleet has been bought by the fleet management arm of French bank Société Générale.
Merrion is the second largest leasing and fleet management company in Ireland with a portfolio of nearly 5,500 vehicles. The new owners, ALD Automotive, currently operates in 41 countries with 1.4 million vehicles under management and 6,000 staff. Industry estimates claim the firm is Europe's largest vehicle lease firm, and third largest in the world.
Merrion Fleet Management Ltd is a privately owned company established in 1999. It currently employs 65 people. The last accounts filed by the firm show a turnover of €61.6 million for 2015 and an operating profit of €5.7 million. The Irish firm declined to reveal the sale price. The deal is subject to approval by the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
Speaking to The Irish Times, sales director David Wikinson said: "Over the years we have had approaches from a number of businesses to sell the company however we never felt that the timing was right. Late last year a conversation started between ALD and Merrion Fleet regarding our intentions for the business and following a number meetings we came to the decision that it was the right decision to sell the business to ALD."
He said the takeover is expected to result in an increase to the size of the Irish fleet and employee numbers over time. The current management team will remain in place. It’s still unclear whether the Irish firm will be rebranded as ALD.
Earlier this month ALD Automotive initiated the first steps in a share flotation process, which is expected to be completed by the end of June. Shares will be listed on Paris’s Euronext exchange. Sources quoted by Reuters say ALD Automotive’s valuation would amount to anywhere between €6 billion and €7 billion. It could bring in €1.4 billion to €1.7 billion for ultimate owner Société Générale.
ALD Automotive reported a profit in 2016 of €512 million on a turnover of €7.5 billion.
David Hurley, chief executive of Merrion Fleet said: 'We are very excited to join ALD and believe this is very positive news for our customers and staff as it supports the future growth and development of the Merrion business." He said the takeover will enable the Irish business to offer its customers "a broader product range and global expertise".