Enterprise Holdings, the world’s biggest car rental operator by fleet and revenues, is broadening its presence in Europe with the acquisition of Citer, a midsized operator in Spain and France owned by PSA Peugeot Citroën.

Terms were not disclosed. Citer, with 2010 revenues of €276m ($373m), operates about 30,000 vehicles and has 1,000 employees.

Peugeot said the deal was unrelated to its recently announced cost-cutting drive, which included shedding 6,000 jobs next year.

The carmaker acquired Citer as part of its 1976 takeover of Citroën. “We decided there were more synergies with another car rental company rather than a carmaking company”, Peugeot said. The sale “is not for belt-tightening reasons, it’s for strategic reasons”.

A spokesman noted that Citer’s revenues are a fraction of Peugeot’s €56.1bn.

Andrew Taylor, Enterprise’s chief executive, said that Citer and its Spanish subsidiary Atesa were “highly complementary to our existing European operations”.

The St Louis-based company operates in the UK, where it claims to be the market leader with 360 outlets, as well as in Germany and Ireland. It has 4,000 employees in the three countries.

“With no overlap or duplication to our current operations in Europe, this will be a great strategic fit,” Mr Taylor said. Enterprise is a private company, controlled by Mr Taylor and his family.

Enterprise made its mark by focusing on customers who needed to rent a car from home, rather than on travellers at airports and hotels.

Much of its early business came from insurance companies and car dealerships, providing temporary replacements for clients’ damaged or stolen vehicles. It opened its first airport location only in 1995.

Since then however, it has greatly expanded its presence in the travel industry, partly through the 2007 acquisition of the US Alamo and National brands.

It said it would use “a careful and disciplined approach” to integrate Citer in both local and airport business. No decisions have yet been taken on whether to maintain the Citer brand, although Enterprise said that it would adopt the same decentralised and entrepreneurial approach that it has applied at National and Alamo.

Enterprise has a worldwide fleet of 1.2m cars and trucks, with 70,000 employees and annual revenues of $14.1bn.

It has a strategic alliance with Paris-based Europcar, under which the two companies refer business to each other in markets where they do not directly compete.

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