Lastminute snaps up car rental firm

Online travel and entertainment group lastminute.com today announced plans to buy car rental firm holiday autos.

Online travel and entertainment group lastminute.com today announced plans to buy car rental firm holiday autos.

Lastminute said it would pay an initial stg£39.7m in cash and shares for the privately-owned Camberley, Surrey-based car rental broker.

London-based lastminute.com said it planned to integrate the business into Breakbuilder – its “dynamic packaging product” which offers customers a choice of flights and accommodation on one screen with a single transaction.

The deal will be put to lastminute.com shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting on April 16 with the sale scheduled to go ahead the next day if they approve.

Brent Hoberman, chief executive of lastminute.com, said: “The acquisition of holiday autos will allow us to offer much improved car hire supply to our customers.

“In addition, this offering will considerably enhance Breakbuilder, launched in November 2002 by giving our customers a unique range of products.”

The group said it will finance the cash component of the deal by issuing just under 15,000,000 new shares as well as tapping into its own cash resources.

Holiday autos’ chairman and chief executive Clive Jacobs will become an executive director and vice chairman of lastminute.com.

He said: “By becoming part of lastminute.com, we will have the opportunity to develop our business further and offer our customers a comprehensive range of additional products and services while lastminute.com’s customers will benefit from the relationships we have built with our suppliers across the world.”

As a broker holiday autos does not own a fleet of hire cars itself but simply matches supply and demand through a network of relationships with car hire firms in 40 countries.

Shares in lastminute.com fell 2.5p to 84.5p.

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