Leeds car lease firm Zenith bought for £750m

Bridgepoint partner Emma Watford

Leeds-based car leasing and fleet management firm Zenith is to be acquired from Hg Capital by private equity firm Bridgepoint for £750 million.

Zenith has more than 500 employees and operates a fleet of 85,000 vehicles.

Bridgepoint said UK fleet services is a “large, growing and resilient market” worth £14 billion and involving about five million vehicles thanks to increased outsourcing and employment growth.

Bridgepoint said “salary sacrifice” through which employees lease cars for personal use has tripled in the last three years and is expected to continue to grow over the next five years.

Zenith CEO Tim Buchan said: “This marks another milestone in the development of Zenith.

“We thank Hg for their contribution and welcome Bridgepoint as our new partner.

“They share our ambitions to consolidate and grow our position as the number one corporate fleet provider in the UK and to transform Zenith into a broader based business.”

Zenith CFO Mark Phillips said: “Through the support of private equity and our banking partners, Zenith has been able to grow and Bridgepoint’s new investment will support the management team to continue to build Zenith, open up new markets and extend the value proposition both in the UK and Europe”.

Bridgepoint partner Emma Watford said: “Zenith is already best-in-class with a proven business model that has had an unbroken track record of growth over a long period.

“It benefits from an exceptional management team and, with them, we believe that the business can continue its impressive growth trajectory through its continued focus on customer service, technology and targeted acquisition activity.”

Bridgepoint said debt financing for the transaction will be provided by HSBC, RBS and Lloyds.

Advisers to Bridgepoint involved in the transaction included: Corporate finance — HSBC & Investec; Legal — White & Case; Commercial — LEK; Financial, IT and Tax — Deloitte; Environmental — ERM; Tax structuring and securitisation — EY.

HgCapital said it was advised on the sale by Evercore, Deloitte, OC&C, KPMG, Weil Gotshal & Manges and Sidley Austin.