Koblenz reflections

I find it mildly unsettling listening to the music of Finzi  from my hotel in Koblenz, as we approach the  centenary of the First World War, where both the UK and the Germans lost a generation, that the two countries are getting closer together than I think we have for many many years. Why unsettling, well perhaps I am from a post war generation whose views have changed from when I was a child, to where I am today. A position that I find myself myself very comfortable and at ease.

The French German coalition in Europe is under extreme pressure, Hollande is wishing to miss another deficit target, and will need Brussel’s blessing, as will many other EU countries. Targets appear to be a moveable feast! With the German elections due in the Autumn, all of Europe, or rather the EU will have to wait until the outcome.

Germany will need a new and steadfast partner, this opportunity is one which we ought to seize with both hands. But in reflection, perhaps we are old partners finding ourselves back together. This is our opportunity to influence the EU, as we have never had previously.

Everybody is discussing growth versus austerity, is the tide turning away from austerity. With unemployment rising in the Southern European countries, anything will appear to be better than austerity. Perhaps a slight relaxation over the summer months is what Europe needs, including the UK.

So why this slightly reflective mood?. Well I personally think that at times in the past , when times where very hard, countries would have distanced themselves from each other, and become entrenched. We all know that some of the decisions that Brussels makes are slightly on the barking side! However, if we ever consider to go our separate ways, just think back almost 100 years ago.

Whatever the faults, whatever the differences, my own personal view is we have to stay and be part of a maturing Europe. From a purely clinical view, it is by far our largest market, and we will need to sell into Europe to move out from  our present financial  position.

For a supplier or manufacturer to penetrate  into a new market, or invigorate a sales push, you will need to have an edge. Everybody says they have an edge, but you will require an astute and experienced  company to provide you with a sharp cutting edge, in other words a proven edge. That is perhaps why this month 5 large European and US companies have chosen Oak to be their European leasing partner. The question is, can you afford not to choose Oak Leasing?

Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing | 56 Comments

“We lost because we didn’t win.”

This quote came from a world famous footballer, but it could also  apply to the financial  ministers of the eurozone. To continue the football analogy, they scored one of the worst own goals ever seen.

The own goal was  of course how they handled the Cyprus situation, what with haircuts , levy’s etc . Even Mario Draghi said “It was not smart”, quite a understatement.  The EU minister, Jeroen Dijsselbloem who said this could be the way forward that the EU will handle future financial crisis’s was Dutch.

But the Dutch have their own problems, although almost under the radar . Their consumer debt is about 250% of available income. Compare this with Spain where in 2011, the debt ratio was 125%. Even though the Dutch have instigated €46 billion cuts, they will still break the EU deficit criterion of 3%. We are always told that it is the Southern Europe that is the problem, perhaps the problems are heading North.

When a  politician of Europe says ” banks must save themselves” people should take note, especially when that politician is Angela Merkel. There appears to be a shift in bailout policy, which will become more apparent as this year will show. It is not just the eurozone countries that are fumbling along, the report on some of the UK bank’s was very critical. With a further £24 billion required by our banks, we are in no position to say anything at all.

So how does this affect the normal SME’s or “Mittelstand’s ” in  Europe. The answer is very simple, with the banks still in a financial  mess, lending will not be their main priority. That has resulted in lending to companies being reduced, and that in turn holds back growth. Even Germany’s economy was close to near stagnation last month, whilst France suffered the biggest contraction for four years.

Oak Leasing is being asked to assist in more  European Equipment Leasing programmes this year, than in any time in the past. From large vendor leasing programmes with US companies wishing to use leasing into Europe, to substantial one off equipment leases.  It is crucial to have a “switched on ” European leasing partner, who knows the whole picture,rather than just by country to country. If you are thinking of leasing in Europe, just give us a call.



Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing, leasing for SMEs | 27 Comments

Comedy of errors gangnam style

The papers are full of the news that the UK has been downgraded by one notch to AA1 by the rating agency Moody’s.

Whilst that will prove to be a temporary blip, and will cause some angst the real story goes gliding slowly by, undetected.
The key is still the eurozone. Let us take or step at a time. France, one of the cornerstones of Europe had stated that GDP debt would hit 3% . This week they announce that can we forget that target, and move it to 3.7%, and we might hit that target next year. The key word is might! Have no doubts that the French economy is  in far worse place than the UK.
Let’s take another step. If I had said that a comic would hold the balance of power  in Italy, you would say, nothing new there, but this is a newcomer, a real comedian. Last weekends Italian election Could prove to be. crucial. for the eurozone.
With Signor Monti , installed by Brussels, not the Itallian  people, and ( the EU,s chosen autocrat) coming a poor fourth, will austerity be given the elbow. Perhaps it is time that Brussels realises that the EU  based  on people, and if you ignore them, chastise them, dictate to them, there will come a. time when they will say enough is enough. It  was noticeable that the German president made similar comments this week. I wonder if the Eurocrats will come up with some unusual moves, something original, even gangnam  style!
So where does that leave us, the pound is down, the euro is up, but we all know that this  could well change over the next two to three months.  For once Germany is on the side lines, as play continues on the pitch. If Italy move away from austerity, and France just stagnates, where will the euro go?  Perhaps after the German election, Brussels will be taught German discipline. For without it, I fear the eurozone will be under great downward pressure.
But with all good comedy,  the punch line comes at the end, is  a low euro the key for growth in the eurozone.  And as Jeremy Clarkson would say, and on that bombshell , goodnight or should that be guten nacht.
For real  insight in  european equipment leasing, follow the leader, Oak Leasing.
Real people in the real Europe.
Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing | 25 Comments

Undercoat or gloss, that is the question

Spring is approaching, and many people are think of brightening  up their homes with a new coat of paint, what colour’s would spruce up the house best, what kind of paint, gloss or silk paint, and of course hours of debate before the final choice. We all know however that before you put the final coat on the walls, you need an undercoat.

Many comments are being made that the eurozone is improving, heading in the right direction, problems behind us now. The question you have to ask is, is this gloss or something else. Let me explain, in the last 36 hours, the Dutch government has just nationalized their fourth largest bank, SND Reaal to the tune of €3.7 billion. Today, the French Bank , Credit Agricole has announced a €2.6 billion write down, and also the Spanish bank , Banco Popular announced a €2.4 billion loss.

This is just a snap shot of 36 hours, not over days and  weeks. However in the Nordic countries, things are much better, Swedbank almost trebled their profits to SKr 4.98 billion, and Nordea  announced that their quarterly profit was €1.1 billion. I think that these figures show that the financial markets in Europe are still very volatile, and will continue for the rest of the year. I suspect that there will be a few more banks hitting the headlines before the Summer arrives.

I will leave the answer to the question concerning  paint up to the individual reader, but if you are requiring a company with a real insight of the European  equipment leasing market, a company with over 20 years experience, I would politely suggest that you have found the company that has the ability, both financial and sales, to help you in whatever european leasing programme that you wish to launch this year

N.B. I note  that in the main editorial of the FT  of the 2nd February, ” Europe’s banks still in grip of past” , it also leads with this story.  It is reassuring that Oak’s blog is ahead of such a renowned paper!

Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing, leasing for SMEs | 17 Comments

Teach yourself Latin here!

At the beginning of any New Year, people and companies set goals, targets, and of course resolutions. Over 96% of all of these I am told normally fail to last even three months! Now I am not a classic scholar, but I always remember schooldays when the headmaster would always say at first assembly back after Christmas, the phrase “carpe diem”. He would interpret this as “sieze the day, make every day count” which is a brilliant way to look at every new year.

However, after reading the poem by Horace, the actual line says “carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero” . The word “carpe” here translates as the word pluck, as you would a fruit from a tree. In other words an opportunity that you would not pass.

At the start of any new year, companies and businesses take the opportunity to see where they  can grow their business, any new markets, and new countries, and how to achieve growth.

To achieve these new targets, you might have to invest in new equipment, or machinery, new IT or software. Some companies might even look towards Europe, as an area in which they could expand, if only they had a european leasing partner.

To cut to the chase, Oak will help you in the funding of your new machinery or software, we will also be to assist you in any european vendor programme that you may wish to pursue. Opportunities do not come every day, some you have to dig hard to locate them, other are just like an overhanging branch, laden with fruit, just waiting for someone to pluck them from the tree.

May I take this opportunity of wishing you all a very prosperous New Year, and happy fruit picking!


Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing, leasing for SMEs | 17 Comments

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck !

The very fact that the phrase ” credit crunch ” has almost disappeared from the news, does not mean in fact that the crunch has lost its bite. If anything, it is tightening its grip.  Let me explain, after 4 years, the lack of capital in the debt market shows we are more in a credit crunch than ever. Take the Merlin lending scheme, much heralded by the Bank of England when it was launched. The latest figures show that after nine months into the project, only £25bn of gross lending has reached its intended destination against an annual target of £76bn   The banks say that there is a low rate of acceptances by their customers. I simply wonder if this low acceptance rate is anything to do with the conditions that then banks put on their loans?

Lets move on from the banks, well slightly. Let me explain. Most of the banks own their own leasing companies. As in previous blogs concerning  the Basel agreement, the new conditions of tier 1 capital is now forcing many of the bank leasing companies to either close off entirely,  or simply reduce the amount that they can lend. This constriction of bank debt will increase as next year will bring a further round of paying back capital to various central banks, and thus reducing the amounts available to their leasing arms.

Only yesterday,  the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee  has declared that big British banks need to raise more capital as protection against possible future losses. This bland statement clearly shows that some of the UK banks will have to find more capital. The other way for the banks to increase their tier 1 capital  ratio is simply reduce the amount that they will lend to the UK economy, i.e. Companies & SME’s.

The independent leasing companies will undoubtedly increase their amounts lent, but will  not come close to covering the potential shortfall. So there you have it, growth needs funding, funding is limited, so it follows that growth will too be limited. However it is times that these where you have to think out of the box.

Forget what you used to do, that  could simply not be sufficient.  In every recession, new firms either emerge, or existing ones turn to new areas. Oak is emerging as the leasing company  of choice for many UK, and EU companies who are looking to markets other than their own countries. The days of just calling  your existing  UK funder to see if they know anyone who can help you in Europe have almost gone. Oak realised that the opportunity was there, and seized it with both hands.  This week Oak has just been chosen by a Hamburg based company who  is expanding into the UK, to offer a leasing solution to their new UK customers.  This company was fully aware of the tightening financial situation and knew that they had to have in place a leasing solution for their customers. Everyone praises hindsight, but actually foresight is far more valuable.

The opportunities are there for every company, so if you need to talk an opportunity through in regard arranging  European equipment leasing , just call Oak to help  guide you through.

So although the phrase “credit crunch” has almost gone,  in reality it is very much apparent. As Douglas Adams put it so succinctly “If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.”






Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing, leasing for SMEs | 35 Comments

Basel 3, the rest 0

The implementation of Basel 3 will commence on the 1st of January 2013. This auspicious start could well pass most of the population by without a care or a thought. However, to simply gloss this over as just another EU banking regulation that will not effect us, is far from correct.

Before I move on, let me explain the magical number Basel 3. This will be the new standard on global banking in regard to capital adequacy, stress testing and market liquidity for any bank. This will strengthen the capital balance sheet of every bank. But as we all know, for every upside, there will lurk a downside.  I will not bore you with all the ratios, but the simple downside is that Basel 3 will effect the amount of money that the banks are able to lend to us all. This is called deleveraging, and the latest estimates of the amount are in the region of €650bn yet to be carried out among the major European banks.

So what I hear you cry, how does this actually effect business, well last week, ING, the Dutch bank  decided to close  its UK equipment leasing operation, which has been funding over £1bn a year of equipment leasing into our businesses. By their withdrawal from the UK equipment leasing market, about  5% of that funding will simply disappear. This withdrawal from leasing also shows how banks across Europe are having to cut activities because of new rules forcing them to hold more capital in reserve, i.e.Basel 3. There could well be more banks announcing such cut backs in the next few months.

This year an amazing 31% of total investment in new machinery and equipment has been funded by equipment leasing, as the banks have cut back hard on loans and overdrafts. contracts. Or to put this in actual figures, just over £22 billion of equipment leasing funding. Equipment leasing helps  businesses grow, and as it is a new credit line, will free existing bank loans and overdrafts for day to day running of a business. The figures show that more and more companies are turning to equipment leasing as an answer to funding new equipment.

At Oak Leasing, we are funding more diverse equipment than ever, both in the UK as well as Europe. Our equipment leasing  funding lines are large, and we have recently increased our funding capacity. If it is refinance, business loans, or just good old fashioned equipment leasing, you know who to call!





Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing, leasing for SMEs | 8 Comments

Singing from the same song sheet?

I think that we ought to appoint Gareth Malone as the new head of the IMF, ECB, and any other major financial institution. I know that may sound a bit on the drastic side, but why not?

Gareth Malone has everybody singing from the same song sheet, they even sing in harmony, and critically  most people enjoy the result.

You may wonder why say this now, well lets just look at this  one week in Europe. During the week,there was another high level split over the euro zone crisis. The head of the IMF,Christine Lagarde warned that EU leaders should ease demands for tighter austerity.

No sooner had she spoken when Wolfgang Schäuble, the German Finance minister said “When you want to climb a big mountain and you start climbing down the mountain, then the mountain will get even higher.” Harmony, I don’t think so!

José Viñals, who is the head of the IMF’s monetary and capital markets department, seemed to warn Germany away from blocking any Spanish request for financial assistance. That Mr Schäuble, then insisted that Spain does not need additional financing aid even as Brussels has been pushing it to ask for assistance.

I think that is called two part harmony!

I have said before in this european equipment leasing blog that unless this is sorted, countries will look to split up. A few weeks ago I mentioned about Catalonia was wishing perhaps to leave Spain, this is now spreading even to Belgium.

Bart De Wever, according to the Belgium press has turned a local ballot in Antwerp into almost a referendum on independence for Flanders. Secessionist sentiment is also on the rise in South Tyrol. Just when Europe requires one clear voice, all we can hear is disharmony.

Business requires  political stability for growth, and growth is what Europe needs. This will prove a very interesting Autumn for Europe. So all those in favour of Gareth Malone being made head of the IMF etc, raise your hands now !

For all of your european leasing requirements,you need people who both understand Europe, but crucially have their finger firmly on the pulse. For setting up a choir, call Gareth, for leasing just call Oak Leasing!

Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing | 18 Comments

Lending Drought Continues?

I think that we are all aware the the UK economy is just bumping along, and one of the main causes of this is the current lending drought. In a recent survey by the British Chambers of Commerce, when asked about government-backed finance schemes, 43% of businesses had not heard of any of them, with younger businesses and micro firms more than likely totally unaware of them. Let me shout this out now, we can  and do help new start business.   Baring this in mind, it is of no surprise that we are simply bumping along with  little growth.

Growth will only come from investment in new equipment or new ventures. These will in turn bring the extra jobs that the economy needs. I have said it before, and will say it again, you simply cannot stand still, this is a dangerous myth. You either go forward or backwards.

It is the companies who see an opportunity to grow or to move into new markets that will drag this country out of the present position that we find ourselves in at the moment.

Oak Leasing has access to some large funders with very deep pockets. Take for instance, just this week, we have just arranged a credit line for €750K for a European company who are investing in its future. On the other hand, we have just arranged a new shopfit for a pharmacy. What I am saying is if you need any new equipment, be it plant, machinery or shopfitting, we have the funds available now to help you grow.

Don’t keep your horizons just fixed on the UK, Europe is a massive market. We can help you arrange an European vendor programme to help you sell more of your equipment to new markets. We are real people in the same real world as you,  so come and talk to us about your plans, and see how we can help you escape this drought and show you fertile areas to grow your business.

Unless you give us a call, we cannot help you!


Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing, leasing for SMEs | 14 Comments

European Leasing is a departmental store, discuss!

After spending most of last and this week in different parts of Europe, I have come to the conclusion that the world of European equipment leasing is no different from a large departmental store. Be it Galerie Lafayette, in France, Galeria Kaufhof in Germany, House of Fraser in the UK, of even Ahlens in Sweden.

That may sound slightly strange, but please just hear me out. There are numerous suppliers and manufacturers who are seeking leasing for their equipment from IT equipment, office equipment, renewables, medical, up to shipping.

There is not one funder  in Europe who either wishes to have all these types of assets, or their rating structure for these deals are simply not suitable. This is where we can offer a bespoke European equipment leasing programme.

If you take say medical equipment, some Funders will only, or can only, accept business in their particular country. Not of any use to a large European medical supplier who will have to search out a different funder in every country. The same applies to most other equipment. This is not only very much sales prevention, but is not at all cost effective for any company.

The different floors to a store can relate to the different countries, the varied departments and in store franchises relate to the different Funders in that country.In  that context, it is quite a maze!

The easy way is to simply think of Oak as your personal shopper, we take care of you and guide you throughout the store, or in this case Europe. Is is vital not to think that selling your equipment in various countries can be a problem. With us at your side, we will turn this into a growth opportunity, and crucially a profitable area.

We use our European equipment leasing expertise for different suppliers and manufacture’s every day of the week.  We match your equipment to Funders and country. It is simple, but all the best things are surely?

This weekend could also prove very interesting for  Club Med countries.  With both Spain and Greece to the fore, it will prove a very interesting week. I will write on this in greater depth next week.

So, if you need help in the European equipment leasing market, you know who to call.

Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing | 15 Comments