Toronto-based Newcourt Credit Group has continued its slimming down process, tendering its Canadian and British auto fleet management operations to Dallas-based Associates First Capital.

The $400 million deal includes assets of Newcourt Fleet Services in Canada, and Newcourt Automotive Services Ltd. in the United Kingdom.

Lease securitizations had been done on the Canadian fleet previously using existing market vehicles at Newcourt. A source at Associates said new originations can be expected, but they will likely be folded into forthcoming leasing deals from existing operations. Nothing is expected until early next year, the source cautioned.

It marks a quick entry and quicker exit from auto leasing at Newcourt, which acquired the portfolio in 1997 after taking over the assets of AT&T Capital Fleet. Newcourt has been looking at ramping down its securitization calendar, in order to make good on promises to CIT Group to ensure that the planned merger with CIT goes ahead.

Lately, the merger has been shaky, following a tough quarter at Newcourt, prompting an ongoing paring of non-core operations. "Newcourt is reviewing all of its businesses to ensure they meet with our long-term objectives of being one of the top three competitors in the businesses in which we operate," said Paul Currie, executive vice president of Newcourt Credit. - TC

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