2009 Year in Review

Eindhoven, the Netherlands – 5 March 2010

CEO statement
“It has been an exceptional year in which our business-model has proven its worth,” says De Lage Landen CEO Ronald Slaats. “I am happy to see that our strategy to partner with our clients has paid off. We operated in a turbulent market in which some parties scaled down their operations and others competed on price to gain market share. Nevertheless, our operational result is pretty good compared to our competition and, in addition, we seized selected business opportunities by closing new partnerships, concluded some portfolio acquisitions, and expanded into the clean technology market. We also continued to standardize our processes and systems which enables us to better serve our global partners. A tighter grip on our costs combined with improved risk management capabilities contributed to a bottom-line result that, while not in keeping with our past performance, may be called more than satisfactory in view of the current circumstances.”

“Our long term business strategy is still valuable within the context of the crisis we envisioned. As a part of the Rabobank Group we always operate in a very customer connected matter. Partnership is a part of all our endeavors. We always stayed away from differentiating solely on price and the subsequent commoditization of our industry. Sustainable success in our business requires a thorough understanding of our customers’ business. It requires a strategy that is aimed at delivering added value all along the distribution chain of our customer. And last but not least, we have the right people to execute this strategy—people who are motivated to work with customers and who are eager to build a relationship instead of merely closing a deal. To me, that is what made our company stand out, and that’s what we will continue to focus on.”      

Core activities
In 2009 De Lage Landen continued to support Rabobank in its ‘Allfinanz’ ambition in the Dutch home market, as well as in its ambition to be the world’s leading food and agri bank. De Lage Landen’s vendor finance unit maintained a disciplined approach regarding new business opportunities. In particular, the business units Healthcare and Food & Agri reported strong new business volumes. Vendor Finance started operations in Chile and South Africa. Impairment charges increased across the board and affected especially the business units Transportation and Construction & Industrial. Thanks to its healthy financial performance and several new partnerships, De Lage Landen won the European Vendor Partnership of the Year award. De Lage Landen expanded its car lease activities into Italy via an acquisition. Athlon Car Lease can now service customers in nine European countries. The aforementioned acquisition, as well as several new clients, resulted in growth of the car fleet to 216,000 cars. Car lease-related results suffered from unfavorable conditions on the used car market. Toward the end of the year, however, this market started to pick up again. In the Dutch home market De Lage Landen offers consumer finance via both local Rabobanks and the direct-to-market consumer finance label, Freo. The Dutch consumer finance market grew modestly in 2009 and saw competitors withdrawing from the market and regulatory bodies increasing their supervision of this industry. De Lage Landen managed to grow its share of this turbulent market and reported an above-budget net profit. Freo emerged from the customer satisfaction survey by Independer, an independent online financial advisor, as the best consumer credit provider of 2009.

Corporate Social Responsibility
De Lage Landen’s CSR philosophy rests on four pillars: the way the company wishes to do business, sustainable & innovative solutions, community involvement and eco efficiency. De Lage Landen believes that by expanding into the clean tech industry and offering innovative financing solutions, it can differentiate itself in the market place, thereby creating significant business opportunities.

In the Netherlands, for example, business is starting to pick up, and De Lage Landen has signed deals on energy-saving equipment, heat and cold storage, and co-generation. Athlon Car Lease has defined electric mobility as a very important development track and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Renault for the purchase of electric cars as of 2011. In the USA, a dedicated solar energy team has been formed to tap into the opportunities this market has to offer.

Internally, De Lage Landen has established a Business Principles Committee to advise the Executive Board on CSR and business ethics-related issues. In line with Rabobank’s target, the company has developed a global plan to reduce the CO2 footprint per fte by 20% by 2014. Implementing the Athlon Car Lease Green Car Plan for employees in the Netherlands; and aiming to obtain Eco-Certifications for the offices in Eindhoven, The Netherlands (BREAAM); and Wayne, United States (LEED) are part of that plan as well.

Outlook
De Lage Landen expects the world economy to recover in 2010, although the recovery will be unevenly spread and fragile. The effects of the measures it took in 2009 will come to fruition in 2010, thereby allowing a controlled growth of the portfolio and net profit. De Lage Landen will continue to work closely with Rabobank, both domestically and internationally. It will focus on further integrating its product offering all along the distribution chain of its customers. By developing innovative financing products, particularly in Clean Tech, De Lage Landen will strive to become a “partner in sustainable solutions”.

Athlon Car Lease expects it will increasingly be invited to respond to tenders for international fleet solutions. In addition, the market, both domestically and internationally, increasingly asks for advice/consultancy on sustainable mobility solutions, which Athlon is well positioned to provide.

In a market that has seen significant changes in the competitive landscape, Consumer Finance is expected to capture opportunities for organic and non-organic growth. 

 The PDF is available for download here.

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