Athene Is Lead Investor In A New Combination

October 31, 2021 | 0 Comments

Athene Holding Ltd. has closed a transaction in which it is the lead investor in a combination of Wheels, Inc. and Donlen, LLC.

The company said, “Athene Holding Ltd. [Athene], an industry-leading financial services company, has closed a transaction in which it is the lead investor in a combination of Wheels, Inc. [Wheels] and Donlen, LLC [Donlen].

“Merging the highly complementary operations of Wheels and Donlen will allow the combined company to bring enhanced mobility solutions and product offerings across large, mid-sized and small fleets to a broader universe of clients. The new company has approximately $5 billion in assets, a broader product suite, a highly diversified, highly rated customer base, and is expected to be rated investment grade.

“Wheels Chief Financial Officer Shlomo Crandus will lead the new company as CEO, and both the management team and Board of Directors will contain representatives from Donlen and Wheels. Donlen CEO Tom Callahan will become a senior executive and board member of the combined company.

“The Athene-led investment is focused on long-term stability and best in class customer service. There will be a significant focus on a measured approach to integration including the retention of both company’s outstanding and experienced personnel and continuity of client facing contacts to ensure a seamless and enhanced experience for their clients. The depth and breadth of Athene’s funding and financing capabilities will allow the company to offer clients an enhanced suite of solutions addressing a myriad of fleet and other needs.”

Jim Belardi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Athene, said, “The Frank family has built a tremendous business over more than 80 years, making Wheels a partner of choice to companies around the world. Combined with Donlen, we see even more opportunities for growth, best in class customer service and deployment of capital across the sector.

“For Athene, this transaction follows our longstanding strategy to invest in businesses with strong fundamentals, underwriting and direct origination capabilities, and the combined platform is expected to be rated investment grade. Over time, we see opportunities to invest in the combined company and look forward to partnering with the management team to help position the business for long-term success.”

Jim Frank, Chairman of Wheels, Inc., said, “More than 80 years ago, my father set out to fill a client’s need which resulted in an innovative solution – the world’s first fleet management company. Since then, we have grown into a global leader in fleet management, working with blue-chip businesses around the world to help make their fleets safer, greener, more productive and cost efficient.”

Dan Frank, CEO of Wheels, Inc., said, “Since inception, Wheels has prided itself on providing solutions to meet the evolving needs of our clients. I am incredibly proud of what our team has achieved, and I am equally impressed by the reputation Donlen has built as a fleet manager. Today’s announcement is just the beginning of an exciting journey ahead for these companies.”

Incoming CEO Shlomo Crandus said, “Today’s announcement is about bringing together two best-in-class fleet management platforms to better serve the growing number of businesses that recognize the financial and operational benefits of outsourcing their fleet and mobility solutions. Together we can invest in innovative services and technology and deliver a world-class experience to more clients around the globe. We are excited by the opportunities that lie ahead to grow the business with a strong partner like Athene.”

Current Donlen CEO Tom Callahan said, “We at Donlen have always had great respect for the team at Wheels, and the combination of these two businesses should further the companies’ long-standing goal of providing our customers with best-in-class service. I am looking forward to working with the collective teams to ensure that the strong legacy of success that both Wheels and Donlen have built continues as a combined organization.”

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