Fortis Lease Group acquires Austria Finanza and Austrolease, the Italian leasing subsidiaries of Bank Austria Creditanstalt

Today Fortis and Bank Austria Creditanstalt Leasing (BA-CA Leasing) have reached an agreement under which Fortis Lease Group will acquire BA-CA Leasing’s Italian activities, Austria Finanza and Austrolease, in a cash transaction valued at EUR 32 million.

Philippe Delva, CEO and Managing Director of Fortis Lease: "This important acquisition is in line with the strategy outlined by Fortis Lease Group. It will further strengthen Fortis’ ambitions to provide a complete range of financial services to European companies with cross-border activities. It will also confirm Fortis Lease Group as a top 5 player amongst the European Leasing companies with a cross-border activity."

For Bank Austria Creditanstalt the sale is a further step to dispose of its none-core activities. The proceeds will be invested in the further expansion of the network in Central and Eastern Europe region (CEE). There, BA-CA Leasing operates the leading network in 10 countries. Clients of BA-CA can still benefit from a special Austrian/CEE-desk in Milan, Italy, which offers 360 degree support in their cross-border activities.

Austrolease is based in the south Tyrolian city Bolzano; Austria Finanza is situated in Treviso; they are active in the highly industrialized North Eastern Italy. Both companies, which operate on a stand-alone basis, have achieved sustained growth, reaching a diversified portfolio of EUR 500 million.

In future both companies will be integrated with the existing leasing subsidiary of Fortis in Milan, Fortis Lease Italia. With a combined staff of 52 employees, Austria Finanza and Austrolease specialize in providing tailor-made solutions in comprehensive Equipment and Real Estate Leasing for a customer base of more than 2,500. A substantial part of the sales is made through brokers or vendors (importers and producers of investment products), highlighting the potential for vendor leasing, one of Fortis Lease ‘s strategic development axes. Northern Italian vendors are prime prospects for European Vendor Leasing with annual export figures amounting to EUR 71 billion in equipment goods.

By adding a well-diversified portfolio of EUR 500 million, or approximately 8% of its existing book, Fortis Lease’s total assets jump from EUR 6.4 billion to EUR 6.9 billion and its staff to 450 FTE’s. Amongst those lessors with a European coverage strategy, Fortis Lease Group maintains a strong position in the top 5, according to Leaseurope.

Fortis in Italy
Fortis Bank is active in Italy with Commercial Banking, Private Banking, Merchant Banking and Fortis Investments.
Commercial Banking, which includes a.o.the Leasing and Factoring activities, operates 4 Business Centres in Milan, Padova, Bologne and Turin, and will be opening a new one in Florence at the beginning of March 2005. Private Banking is present through MeesPierson, with offices in Milan, Brescia and Arezzo.
Merchant Banking is active in Milan with Corporate Banking, Global Project and Export Finance, Global Markets, Information Banking, Energy services and Global Lending Security & Arbitrage (GSLA).
The whole Fortis team in Italy reaches 149 employees, of which 55 are professionals and account managers.
Fortis Lease Italia in Milan opened in 2004, its products covering all areas of the leasing business: equipment, real estate, cars and trucks for medium-sized companies and European vendors.

Fortis Lease
Fortis Lease is part of Fortis, an integrated financial services provider active in the fields of banking and insurance. With a market capitalisation of EUR 26.9 billion (31/01/2005) and around 52,000 employees, Fortis ranks in the top 20 European financial institutions. 
Fortis Lease is a financial leasing company specialising in leasing products such as private cars, company cars, machinery, forklift trucks, IT equipment and real estate. Fortis Lease currently operates in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Poland. Through its product expertise, knowledge of the international leasing market and international presence, Fortis Lease is able to meet the growing demand of its customers for European solutions. Fortis Lease Group is incorporated in Luxembourg as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Banque Générale du Luxembourg.

Bank Austria Creditanstalt Leasing
Bank Austria Creditanstalt Leasing (BA-CA Leasing) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank Austria Creditanstalt Group.

BA-CA Leasing is among the leading leasing companies in Austria and throughout the Central and Eastern European area with subsidiaries in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia. In 2003, BA-CA Leasing set a record with a new business volume of some EUR 1.9 billion. Its total assets amount to approximately EUR 5.5 billion.

Bank Austria Creditanstalt Group is a member of HVB Group. With total assets of approx. EUR 147 billion it is the biggest bank in Austria and leading bank in the growth region of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). BA-CA serves more the 6 million customers in 12 countries and operates with its 29.000 employees about 1,400 offices.

Press Contacts:   
 +32 (0)2 565 35 84 Utrecht: +31 (0)30 226 32 19
Investor Relations:   
Brussels: +32 (0)2 510 53 91 Utrecht: +31 (0)30 226 32 20

Press Contacts    
Bank Austria Creditanstalt  

Peter N. Thier  
Press Department  
+43 (0)50505 ext. 52371   

  Press Contacts
Bank Austria Creditanstalt Leasing

Alexander Schmidecker
General Manager
+43 (0)1 58808 ext. 3310