Warren Avis, who founded Avis Rent-A-Car in 1946 and sold the company eight years later, said Thursday that he wants to buy it from its current owner, Beatrice Cos., with the backing of a multinational group of investors.
He said he hopes to expand Avis, which is No. 2 in the U.S. car rental market behind Hertz, into financial services, beginning with travelers checks and a general-use credit card.
“It’s like a child I raised, and I lost it for years and finally get it back,” said Avis, who is in his late 60s and has invested in real estate development and computer-related products since he sold the car rental company.
Pat Brozowski, a spokeswoman at Beatrice’s headquarters in Chicago, said Beatrice had not been contacted by Avis and would have no comment on his interest in buying Avis Inc.
Beatrice, a leading food and consumer products conglomerate, announced Oct. 1 that it was putting Avis up for sale along with three other businesses. It said the companies either did not fit into Beatrice’s food and consumer products focus or were not making enough money.
Avis is the parent company of Avis Rent-A-Car’s U.S. and European businesses and Avis Leasing. Analysts have estimated its market value at about $400 million.
Hertz was sold by RCA Corp. to UAL Inc., the parent of United Airlines and Westin hotels, for $587.5 million earlier this year.
Warren Avis said he had the financial backing of a group of American, European and Middle Eastern investors. He declined to identify them.