The deal gives Northgate a 40% stake in Furgonetas de Alquiler SA (Fualsa) of Spain, in the first stage of plans to take successful Northgate products to the heart of Europe. As part of the deal, Northgate has options to acquire the remaining 60% by May 31, 2006.
Fualsa is one of the largest van rental companies in Spain and was formerly family-owned. Its current fleet size stands at about 10,000 vehicles, of which approximately 6,200 are vans.
Northgate chief executive Steve Smith, said: 'This is the first step in building up a presence in Europe which will complement our continued growth in the domestic rental market.
'We see this as a fantastic opportunity to establish our products into the European environment. We are convinced that the quality of the company we have purchased and the structure of the deal give us an ideal platform to replicate the success we have enjoyed in the UK.'
Research by Northgate suggested Spain was the fastest growing rental market in Europe.
Luis Acebes, president of Fualsa, said: 'We look forward to working together in Spain to make our two companies even more successful together than they have been individually.'
Fualsa had sales in the 12-month period ended December 31, 2001 of 37.9 million Euros (£24.2 million) and profits before tax of 4.7 million Euros (£3 million).
Fualsa operates from headquarters in Madrid and has sites in Barcelona, Seville, Valladolid, Valencia and Zaragoza.