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History of Avis Rent a Car

Avis Rent A Car was founded in 1946 by a man named Warren Avis. Avis became the first car rental company to rent vehicles from airport locations. In 1954, Warren decided to sell Avis and the company was purchased by a Boston financier named Richard S. Robie. Avis was sold for $8 million. Throughout the history of Avis, the company has changed hands many times. The following includes an overview of ownership.

In 1956, Avis was acquired by an investment group led by Amoskeag Company and Avis, Inc. became the official holding company for all business related matters.

In 1962, Avis was sold and purchased by the investment banking firm, Lazard Freres & Company.

In 1965, Avis was purchased for $51 million by ITT Corporation.

In 1977, Avis was bought by Norton Simon, Inc. for $174 million.

In 1983, Avis was acquired by Esmark, Inc. which purchased Norton Simon for $1 billion.

In 1984, Esmark was purchased by Beatrice for $2.5 billion.

In 1986, Beatrice was acquired by the investment firm Kohlberg, Kravis, Roerts & Co for $6.2 billion, and Avis was then sold separately to an investment firm named Wesray Capital Corporation for $263 million.

In 1987, Avis’ Employee Stock Ownership Plan purchased Avis for $750 million and Avis became one of the largest employee-owned companies in the United States.

In 1996, Avis was acquired by HFS Incorporated.

In 1997, Avis becomes a public company and makes its initial stock offering.

In 2001, Avis was purchased by Cendant for $937 million.

In 2006, Cendant decides to split into four different companies and Avis becomes Avis Rent A Car System, LLC, with its parent company listed as Avis Budget Group, Inc.

Some additional company highlights and milestones include:

During the 1950’s, Avis continued to expand its operations and began franchises in Europe, Canada, and Mexico.

During the 1960’s, Avis established its first corporate offices in the United Kingdom, and they also launched their “We Try Harder” advertising campaign.

During the 1970’s, Avis introduced Wizard which became the first real-time information management and reservation system.

During the 1980’s, Avis started their rapid return program which allowed automated self-check-in, and Avis sold stock to General Motors Corporation making them a minority shareholder.

During the 1990’s, Avis became a publicly traded company.

During recent years, Avis received the honor of being ranked highest for their customer service loyalty among 129 different companies evaluated for the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Awards, and Avis tied for first place in the J.D. Power ranking for business traveler satisfaction with car rental companies.