Expedia Inc has acquired Auto Escape Group. This move boosts the American online travel agency giant's presence in the European car rental market.
Auto Escape Group's portfolio includes autoescape.fr, which claims to be France's most used car hire brand and to have thousands of offices worldwide.
Annual business turnover for Auto Escape was estimated at 120 million euros -- a fivefold jump in five years -- according to sources quoted by Les Echos.
Auto Escape says most of its revenue now comes from outside of France. Its 20 websites also includes large German brand Car Del Mar.
The 15-year-old group says that it has brand-wide access to the fleets of nearly 300 rental car chains, such as Ada and Hertz, in more than 125 countries.
Until now, the group had been owned by French private equity firm Montefiore plus some of the group's executives. Terms were not disclosed.
The BC Partners Fund, which bought CarTrawler this spring, lost the bidding for Auto Escape, reports Le Monde. (For a sense of the size of the deal, BC Partners Fund was rumored to have spent £300 million on CarTrawler.)
European contest for car hire
There's been lots of ferment in the car rental market, beyond the CarTrawler deal.
On 12 June, Sixt, Germany's leading car rental company, signed a global partnership deal with the Expedia Inc.. The deal provides Expedia, Hotwire and CarRentals.com customers access to Sixt’s fleet at more than 2,000 locations worldwide.
As context, Priceline bought TravelJigsaw, a car hire brand, in October 2010. This move evens the score somewhat.
Sabre-owned Lastminute.com sold its car rental consumer brand HolidayAutos in June of last year.
As always in Europe, the acquisition of Auto Escape Group by Expedia requires approval of competition authorities, which may not happen until as long as two months from now.
The group's 115 employees, with head offices in Hamburg and Pertuis, France, will become a part of the CarRentals.com brand.
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