DALLAS-Sept. 25, 2006 – The Board of Managers of Drive Financial Services®, LP has announced that Banco Santander Central Hispano, S.A. (“Santander”) has entered into a definitive agreement with HBOS plc (“HBOS”) and selected members of Drive management to acquire a 90% ownership stake in the Company.
“The sale represents a logical move for HBOS – both financially and strategically,” according to Bill Hendry, Managing Director of HBOS in North America and Chairman of Drive.
“Transferring ownership of Drive to a multinational financial institution with an international focus in auto finance is the right move to continue the phenomenal success story”, added Allan Garraway, CEO of Drive Financial Services.
Santander, headquartered in Madrid, Spain, is one of the largest financial groups in the world with a market capitalization of EUR 77 billion. Santander has a global presence and specializes in retail banking, consumer finance, asset management and insurance.
Thomas Dundon, currently the company’s President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) will retain 10% ownership and has agreed to a long term contract to become the company’s new CEO. He states, “Drive believes we have found the ideal partner to support our continued evolution into one of the most successful auto finance companies in the country.”
Santander expects Drive to expand its existing auto lending franchise and enhance its presence in North America. “This transaction represents a qualitative leap for Santander Consumer Finance. Drive is the niche leader in a business in which Santander has a solid record of success in Europe, which we will aim to repeat in the U.S., the world’s largest market,” said Juan RodrÃguez Inciarte, head of Santander Consumer Finance. “We believe Drive is exceedingly well-positioned for growth and has excellent servicing and asset quality control platforms”.
Completion of the transaction is subject to receipt of regulatory approvals and expected to take place prior to the end of 2006.
Grupo Santander (SAN.MC, STD.N) is a global financial group specializing in retail banking, consumer finance, wholesale banking, asset management and insurance. Founded in 1857, Santander has EUR 818,100 million in assets and EUR 976,500 million in managed funds, 67 million customers, 10,300 offices and a presence in 40 countries. It is the largest financial group in Spain and Latin America, and is a major player elsewhere in Europe, including the United Kingdom, through its Abbey unit, and Portugal. Through Santander Consumer Finance, it also operates a leading consumer finance franchise in Germany, Italy, Spain and ten other European countries. In the U.S., Santander has a 24.9% stake in Sovereign Bancorp., Inc. of Pennsylvania. In the first half of 2006, Santander recorded EUR 3,216 million in net attributable profits, 26% more than in the same period of the previous year.
HBOS plc was formed by the merger of Halifax and Bank of Scotland in 2001. Two out of every five UK households are HBOS customers. With assets of over £540 billion at 31st December 2005, it is the UK’s largest mortgage and savings provider as well as being a major player in the provision of new current accounts and credit cards in the UK. Profit before Tax for the year ended 31st December 2005 was £4.8 billion. HBOS in North America has seven regional offices offering corporate lending to a broad range of US based companies specialising in a number of niche industries, including oil & gas, gaming and Continuing Care Retirement Communities.