Avis receives purchase offer from HFS


PARSIPPANY, N.J. -- Avis Inc., one of the nation's largest car rental operators, received an "unsolicited indication of interest" to be acquired by a publicly traded company, Avis spokeswoman Demetria Mudar said yesterday.

Avis, which is owned by its employees, is in talks to be bought by HFS Inc. in a transaction that could total more than $1 billion including debt, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the talks. Mudar declined to identify the interested company.

HFS Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Henry Silverman neither confirmed nor denied the talks, but he said the company is interested in entering the car rental business. The industry "has intriguing synergies," he said in an interview in New York. "It looks like a business that's very consolidatable."

HFS stock rose 25 cents to close at $62.625 as 1.01 million shares changed hands, twice the three-month daily average. Over the past year, HFS' stock more than doubled. Last month, HFS sold $1.04 billion of common stock to help pay for acquisitions.

An Avis purchase would bring HFS into a third industry and continue a string of big acquisitions for the New Jersey-based company. Last month, it agreed to buy Coldwell Banker Corp. for $740 million to extend its position as the largest franchiser of real estate brokerages. It's already the largest franchiser of hotels, such as Days Inn and Howard Johnson.

An acquisition of Avis would require the approval of General Motors Corp., which owns preferred stock convertible into a 29 percent stake in the company.

Pub Date: 6/04/96

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