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Wheels & ALD Discuss New Global Strategic Partnership

August 2009, by Mike Antich - Also by this author

On April 2, Wheels Inc. and ALD Automotive signed an agreement to create a global partnership to serve the strategic needs of multinational corporations whose global fleets require specialized management and attention. ALD Automotive, a subsidiary of Société Générale Bank, headquartered in Paris, is one of the largest fleet management and leasing providers in Europe. Present in 39 countries, ALD International has an international portfolio of nearly 800,000 vehicles. Wheels manages approximately 305,000 vehicles. More than 40 percent of the partnership's combined customers have already initiated an international approach to fleet.

Automotive Fleet recently discussed the new global partnership with Jim Frank, president and CEO of Wheels, and Pascal Serres, deputy CEO of ALD Automotive. The following are excerpts from the interview.

Gianluca Soma (left), CEO of ALD, and Jim Frank, CEO of Wheels Inc., celebrate their companies’ new strategic partnership at an April 2 signing ceremony in Paris. “We believe combining our respective experience and variety of products will bring best-in-class service at a worldwide level to all of our customers. This will accelerate the homogenization of new products developed by Wheels and ALD Automotive according to each customer’s specific needs,” said Soma.

AF: Has equity been exchanged as a result of this global partnership?

FRANK: There is no equity exchange. Each company will continue to be independent. It is a contractual agreement between Wheels and ALD. The partnership focuses solely on global fleet management. Both companies remain financially independent and maintain their existing operations. We have contractual arrangements and commitments on both parties in terms of providing mutual financial support for our common enterprise. We are committing quite a bit of resources to building this relationship and common branding. In North America, we will be known as Wheels in global partnership with ALD Automotive. In Europe, it will be ALD Automotive in global partnership with Wheels.

SERRES: I would like to add to what Jim was saying. Many of our customers and Wheels customers are the same. It is extremely important that both Wheels and ALD were chosen by similar customers. Another important point for us is the sharing of the brand because we both need to promote the other company. We are in the service business. The customer stays with the company that offers the best service. We consider Wheels to be, by far, the best solution in the U.S. and are very pleased that Wheels has exactly the same objectives as ALD Automotive.
AF: How does the partnership between Wheels and ALD Automotive affect ALD's business subsidiary in the U.S.?

SERRES: We have a subsidiary in the U.S. that does not have the capacity to serve international customers. We made this alliance to better serve our international customers. 

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