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Fleet Creates New Venture to Offer Small-Ticket Equipment Leasing; Initiative Broadens Fleet's Small Business Financing Capabilities.

BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 13, 1998--Fleet Financial Group (NYSE:FLT), one of the nation's leading providers of financial services to small businesses and the leading small business lender in the Northeast, announced today that it has created Fleet Business Leasing to provide small-ticket leasing programs for businesses with annual revenues up to $10 million.

"Fleet Business Leasing adds to our array of financing solutions and gives our small business customers one-stop access to equipment funding on flexible terms. Given the rapid pace of change in technologies and equipment used by most small businesses today, the option to lease gives entrepreneurial companies a way to cost-effectively keep pace with those changes. It also enables them to deal with a single leasing source, rather than getting locked into multiple manufacturers' financing terms," said Norman J. DeLuca, Managing Director of Fleet's Business and Entrepreneurial Services Group.

Small-ticket leases are typically used to finance general office equipment like copiers, PCs, printers and FAX machines. They are also used for the acquisition of commercial vehicles, printing presses, medical and restaurant equipment, telecommunications upgrades, and security systems.

Leasing offers several advantages to small businesses:

-- it conserves working capital, making cash and credit lines available for other immediate needs

-- it can provide tax advantages, including avoiding the Alternative Minimum Tax

-- it provides financing for 100% of equipment cost, in many cases including soft costs such as training, shipping, and taxes

Fleet's financing options include a variety of end-of-lease options based on customer needs, including fair market value, fixed-price, and $1 buy-out alternatives.

Leases of $5,000 to $50,000 have a simple one-page application, and offer a same-day decision for completed applications received by 3:00 p.m. on business days. Lease applications over $50,000 are processed within three business days. Transactions over $100,000 are individually structured and priced.

Fleet Bank will incorporate the lease option alternative in its equipment financing programs and coordinate marketing of the program to its 400,000 small business customers throughout the Northeast.

The current U.S. market for small-ticket leases is estimated at $50 billion in outstandings and $25 billion in annual originations. Approximately 80% of all small businesses in the U.S. currently use lease financing programs.

"Our introduction of Fleet Business Leasing is the latest in a series of strategic initiatives by Fleet to expand our range of products and services to provide even greater access to sophisticated credit tools. Entrepreneurial businesses represent an emerging force in the U.S. economy, and this leasing option creates new opportunities for their growth," said DeLuca.

Fleet is introducing its small-ticket leasing program in alliance with Tokai Financial Services, Inc., an international underwriter of equipment leasing. Under terms of the private label agreement, Tokai will provide underwriting and processing services.

Fleet will introduce its new leasing initiative in Metro New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts in July. It will roll out the program in all other states in its Northeast franchise by the end of August.

The Fleet Business Leasing initiative complements Fleet Capital Leasing, a nationwide equipment leasing and finance concern created by Fleet in 1970, now with $3.6 billion in assets. Through 25 regional offices, Fleet Capital Leasing provides lease financing for transactions that exceed $250,000.

Small business customers interested in exploring leasing options can call Fleet Business Leasing at 1-800-745-7372 weekdays or visit a Fleet branch office.

Tokai Financial Services, Inc., with its headquarters in Berwyn, Pa., is a wholly owned subsidiary of one of the world's largest banks, The Tokai Bank, Limited of Nagoya, Japan. TFS has become the leading provider of small-ticket, private label leasing for financial institutions in the United States. With a portfolio consisting of approximately $1.5 billion in assets, TFS is also a leader in private label leasing for major equipment manufacturers in industries including health care, computers, technology, office and industrial equipment.

Fleet Financial Group, headquartered in Boston and listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:FLT), is a diversified financial services company with $97.7 billion in assets and more than $80 billion in assets under management. The nation's sixth largest commercial lender and New England's leading small business lender, Fleet's lines of business include consumer banking, government banking, mortgage banking, corporate finance, commercial real estate lending, credit cards, insurance services, cash management, equipment leasing and asset-based lending. Fleet also provides a wide array of investment management services for both individuals and institutional clients and operates the nation's third largest discount brokerage firm through its Quick & Reilly, Inc. subsidiary. With 1,200 branches and over 2,400 ATMs, Fleet also provides 24-hour telephone banking as well as electronic banking services through the Fleet PC Banking Center.

 CONTACT: Fleet Financial Group
 Jim Schepker, 860-986-7592

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Publication:Business Wire
Article Type:Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 13, 1998
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