WE EXPECT A BOOM ON THE LEASE MARKET
Mr. Machart, what was the reason for the consolidation between HVB Leasing and Hebros Leasing?
- Enlargement in the financial sector, the leasing market included, is an important and necessary prerequisite for achievement of higher efficiency in business. These are the European and the world tendencies in the terms of globalisation. You know that the international financial group of HVB and UniCredito to which we belong is now establishing standards exactly in the consolidation process.
The same is happening in the leasing business of the group in Bulgaria. HVB Leasing and Hebros Leasing united their business and their merger has been an official fact for several weeks now. We created a new structure by taking the best elements in the business of both companies. We try to optimize our business opportunities in order to provide our customers with quality services.
However, the consolidation process is not over. The leasing company owned by UniCredito and BULBANK - UniCredit Leasing Bulgaria, is still to be integrated and this process will take some time.
The united company HVB Hebros Leasing already ranks on top of all lease companies, anticipating the traditional leader Interlease - a subsidiary of the National Bank of Greece and the United Bulgarian Bank. Will any business space remain for your rivals after you integrate with UniCredit Leasing Bulgaria?
- We rank first in terms of volume of transactions and this is also proven by the analyses of the authoritative Bulgarian association of lease companies. I think that there is room for everybody on the market as it is still to expand and grow, especially because of Bulgaria's integration into the European Union.
Hebros Leasing's strength consisted in serving small clients, whereas HVB Leasing concentrated on the corporate sector. What will be the priorities of the united company, is it going to change the product range?
- The integration of activities means that we are going to offer from one and the same centre leasing services to both big corporate customers and small and mid-sized enterprises, including individuals. We are going to keep and improve the best of the product portfolio of the two companies. For example, we shall keep leasing second-hand cars for small and mid-sized enterprises and production equipment and other machines for the big ones. We intend to keep HVB Leasing's business by continuing to offer new trucks on lease to our private customers. In the future, we are planning to combine the products and improve them.
Are you going to cooperate with any of the new car importers or plan to work with all dealers?
- We stay open to all kinds of cooperation. We are going to continue our partnership with all car importers and dealers in order to meet our customers' desires and offer them lots of alternatives. We'll keep signing lease agreements in levs and euro, with either fixed or flexible leasing schemes which in fact are not so frequent on the market. They are not a problem to us since we have a great financial potential being a subsidiary of the powerful European financial group.
Are your prices competitive to the European ones, too?
- We offer the business lucrative and competitive prices, but since we are a private structure we have to cover our expenses and make a profit. We do our best to maintain competitive prices and European standards by contributing to the growth and competitive power of the companies we work with.
Are leasing or banking prices more paying to customers?
- I don't think we should compare leasing to bank crediting, because they are different types of financing. In the lease, the accent falls on the price of the object which is acquired - a car, machine, or another asset, whereas the bank loan is later invested - in assets necessary for the business, for example. The leasing deal also includes elements of the rent contract relations. Therefore, we cannot say whether the price of the lease or that of the credit is more advantageous.
Do you compete with the banks you belong to?
- No, because this is a different type of investment. Leasing companies have an advantage because they provide the object of financing and the customer does not need to care about it. He pays under the approved leasing scheme and at the same time he uses the acquisition. Our company offers both operating and other forms of lease used on the Bulgarian market. We lease vehicles - trucks, buses, including small planes.
Do you offer ships on lease?
- We have not worked in this segment yet, but our Italian colleagues from UniCredito who occupy with ship leasing will help us to introduce the service in Bulgaria. This will not happen immediately, but on a later stage we are certainly going to offer vessels on lease.
HVB Hebros Leasing is a subsidiary of integrated banks. Are you going to use their network in order to expand your customer portfolio and distribution of leasing products?
- It is an advantage to our clients that they can use the products and services of HVB Biochim and HEBROSBANK. The opposite is valid, too - bank customers who are interested in leasing will immediately get the service they need. Our strength is that we are backed by a strong financial group which allows us to make big deals. In the near future we intend to sell our lease products directly through the banks.
Real estate business was a priority for HVB Leasing. Will the company keep its interest in this segment?
- Yes, we are still interested in the property market. We are going to take part with lease schemes in the financing of many new objects.
You said that you intended to make the leasing business here more efficient. How exactly are you going to do it?
- Quite simply - by using the formula that big business must also be organized very well. Our rich international experience enables us to solve the problems rationally and efficiently, unlike our competitors who are still to adapt to the European standards. The most important thing is to stay accessible and to serve our customers flexibly, to be their reliable advisers. To do so, we need an efficiently operating team, so we take care for the people who engage with us to be highly qualified professionals. We help them to achieve that level by constantly training them here or in the divisions of the financial group abroad. It disposes of a well structured program for training the staff.