The manufacturer also owns 81% of Hertz, with the remaining 19% floated on the New York Stock Exchange. The sale of Axus would leave Ford free to bid for another multi-marque leasing firm, and speculation has already started that it has its sights set on Barclays-owned Dial, although spokesmen for both companies declined to comment.
Selling Axus would, however, leave Ford with a significant hole in its programme of owning cradle-to-grave motoring services, and sit at odds with General Motors Acceptance Corporation's recent determination to enter the full service leasing market through the acquisition of Arriva Automotive Solutions.
Frank Olson, Hertz chairman and chief executive officer, said buying Axus would provide 'synergistic opportunities' both in terms of customer bases and cost structures. 'We believe the acquisition of Axus would fit well with our stated growth strategy and intention to develop businesses within our core competencies,' he said.
Hertz set up its own contract hire firm, Hertz Leasing, at the start of last year and has leasing operations in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. The acquisition of Axus would give Hertz Leasing a huge boost in achieving its goal of setting up a pan-European leasing operation. Hertz's intention to accelerate its growth in the full service leasing market follows hot on the heels of Avis Rent a Car Inc's acquisition of Cendant Business Answers, parent company to fleet giant PHH Vehicle Management. No one at Axus was available for comment, and any transaction is understood to be at least 60 to 90 days away.