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Hertz Deal for Dollar Thrifty Gets Boost

Hertz and Dollar Thrifty LogosHertz Global Holdings has had some luck with its bid for smaller rival Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group. However, this boost didn’t come directly from either company; rather, it came through a deal involving Avis Budget Group, which became the leading general-use car hire company in North America this year.

Hertz and Avis Budget have been at war for Dollar Thrifty since last year, though there was a break from about September last year to April this year after the smaller rival rejected Hertz’s bid. Both companies are in separate talks to get antitrust approval, but now Avis Budget has made a move to purchase Avis Europe for £635 million. According to a leading shareholder for the group, it’s not likely that Avis Budget will renew its bid for Dollar Thrifty, as Avis Europe seems a better deal financially and has less integration risk.

Aside from that, Avis Budget said in a statement that they will continue to watch the situation with Dollar Thrifty. However, they will put all their focus on completing and integrating the acquisition of Avis Europe. The buyout reunites the businesses about 25 years after they were divided. The company was already having trouble getting antitrust approval from regulators for Dollar Thrifty, so even if they did renew their bid, it would be practically impossible for it to go through.

After the acquisition was announced on Tuesday, shares in Hertz rose 13% while Dollar Thrifty shares dropped 10% in New York to just $72. With Avis Budget sort of out of the way now, Hertz has a better chance of winning its bid for Dollar Thrifty – especially after it significantly increased its bid last month. Shareholders at Dollar Thrifty are said to have been advised against accepting the deal, because executives believe the company is worth more than what they were going to get. Though Dollar Thrifty executives perceive the company is worth more, based on the value of the company’s shares, they would be getting a decent deal. Hertz has increased its bid for the group a couple of times now, while Dollar Thrifty’s shares have continued to fall in value.

Now that all of this has been going on this week, Hertz pretty much has a clear shot at acquiring Dollar Thrifty, pending regulatory approval. Sources say that the company has been talking to several buyers about selling Advantage Rent-a-Car, its low-cost unit, which would increase its chances of getting antitrust approval. It’s believed that they have slimmed down the list to just 3 strategic buyers and 2 private equity firms.

The US has seen a lot of consolidation in the car hire market, and it has been fast. There are only 4 major names left – Enterprise Holdings, Avis Budget Group, Hertz Global Holdings and Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group. This has caused a lot of antitrust concerns among regulators, as approving a deal between Hertz and Dollar Thrifty will only leave 3 major groups in the US.

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