Carsharing Zipcar Acquired By Rental Giant Avis Budget

Avis Budget, the vehicle daily rental specialist, has bought its way into car sharing.

The Avis Budget Group is acquiring Zipcar for $12.25 per share in cash, a 49-percent premium over the closing price on Dec. 31, 2012.

This share price offer brings the total transaction value to approximately $500 million.

Zipcar operates a fleet of various hybrid and conventional cars, mostly of compact and subcompact sizes.

The transaction is subject to approval by Zipcar shareholders and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2013.

The boards of directors of both companies unanimously approved the transaction, and Zipcar shareholders representing approximately 32 percent of the outstanding common stock have agreed to vote their shares in support of the transaction.

Zipcar says car sharing has grown to be a nearly $400 million business in the United States and is expanding rapidly in major cities around the world. Both companies say Zipcar has led this industry, leading in innovation and world-class service. Zipcar now has more than 760,000 members, known as Zipsters, with a market-leading presence in 20 major metropolitan areas in the United States, Canada and Europe,

Zipcar also has fleets positioned at over 300 college and university campuses. Zipcar says it has combined leading-edge technology, an outstanding customer experience, and clear brand messaging to develop strong loyalty and advocacy among its customers.

“By combining with Zipcar, we will significantly increase our growth potential, both in the United States and internationally, and will position our Company to better serve a greater variety of consumer and commercial transportation needs,” said Ronald L. Nelson, Avis Budget Group chairman and chief executive officer. “We see car sharing as highly complementary to traditional car rental, with rapid growth potential and representing a scalable opportunity for us as a combined company. We expect to apply Avis Budget’s experience and efficiencies of fleet management with Zipcar’s proven, customer-friendly technology to accelerate the growth of the Zipcar brand and to provide more options for Zipsters in more places. We also expect to leverage Zipcar’s technology to expand mobility solutions under the Avis and Budget brands.”

Avis Budget says it expects to generate $50 to $70 million in annual synergies as a result of the transaction.

In particular, Avis Budget says it expects significant cost reductions across the fleet life cycle (from procurement to operations and maintenance to disposition, as well as financing), in addition to savings from eliminating Zipcar’s public-company costs.

Avis Budget also plans to achieve substantial cost savings by increasing fleet utilization across the two companies. Avis Budget believes significant revenue growth opportunities exist, including by leveraging Avis Budget’s fleet to meet more of Zipsters’ weekend demand, which is currently constrained by fleet availability.

“We are delighted to announce our intention to join the Avis Budget Group family of companies, and we believe this combination is a win across the board for our members, shareholders and employees. We will be well positioned to accelerate enhancements to the Zipcar member experience with more offers and additional services as well as an expanded network of locations,” said Scott Griffith, chairman and chief executive officer of Zipcar. “As the leading global provider of car sharing services, with a brand that is synonymous with the category, we remain committed to the values and vision that have driven us forward for many years, grounded by our passion for delivering a superior experience to every member for every trip, every day. By combining Zipcar’s expertise in on-demand mobility with Avis Budget Group’s expertise in global fleet operations and vast global network, we will be able to accelerate the revolution we began in personal mobility.”

Following the acquisition, Zipcar will operate as a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group and will continue with its planned move to new headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts.

Avis Budget says it anticipates that key members of the Zipcar management team, including Mr. Griffith and Mark Norman, president and chief operating officer, will continue to set the overall direction and run day-to-day operations of Zipcar.

“Avis Budget’s existing infrastructure, scale and experience with managing multiple brands make us uniquely positioned to accelerate the growth and profitability of Zipcar,” Mr. Nelson added. “At the same time, we are committed to retaining the elements of the Zipcar brand and culture that have allowed Zipcar to achieve such rapid growth and success over the last twelve years.”

Avis Budget Group says it expects to fund the purchase price primarily with incremental corporate debt borrowings, as well as available cash.

Avis Budget Group says it had cash and marketable securities of approximately $554 million as of Sept. 30, 2012. Zipcar had cash and marketable securities of approximately $82 million, or approximately $2 per Zipcar share.