Athene, an industry-leading financial services company, is now the new primary stakeholder in a merger between Wheels Inc. and Donlen LLC.
The two companies represent a highly complementary merger and will allow a single entity to offer enhanced mobility solutions and products across some of the most well-known small-, medium-, and large-size fleets. The new company counts approximately $5 billion in assets, a larger product range, and a highly diversified customer base. They are expected to be rated investment grade.
The Chief Financial Officer of Wheels, Shlomo Crandus, will lead the new company as CEO, and both the management team and Board of Directors will contain representatives from both Wheels and Donlen. Donlen CEO Tom Callahan will now hold the title of senior executive and sits as a board member of the combined company.
The Athene-led investment is focused on long-term stability and premier customer service. The new company plans to take a measured approach to integration and will retain both companies’ experienced personnel and continuity of client-facing contacts to ensure a smooth transition for all stakeholders. The sheer scope of Athene’s funding and financing capabilities will allow the company to offer clients a new and enhanced set of solutions addressing many fleet and ancillary needs.
"The Frank family has built a tremendous business over more than 80 years, making Wheels a partner of choice to companies around the world,” says Jim Belardi, chairman and CEO of Athene.
“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."
“More than 80 years ago, my father set out to fill a client's need which resulted in an innovative solution,” says Jim Frank, chairman of Wheels, Inc., says, "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., says: "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."
Finally, incoming CEO Shlomo Crandus says: "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 says: "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."