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Yoni Epstein, partners acquire online car rental business

Published:Friday | April 22, 2016 | 4:00 AMSteven Jackson
Businessman Yoni Epstein.

A consortium of local and overseas-based investors, led by Jamaican Yoni Epstein, acquired a 85 per cent stake in US-based online CarRental8.com for an undisclosed sum.

Mayberry Investments Limited acted as lead broker and financial adviser to the group.

Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, CarRental8.com is a known player in the global online car rental brokerage industry. It offers car-rental services in 125 countries serving 17,000 locations.

Essentially, customers can book and compare prices from several rental car agencies online, including Hertz, Sixt, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Alamo, Enterprise, National, Budget, EuropCar and Fox Rent A Car, for domestic and international travel, while boasting 30 per cent discounts to its competitors and going direct to the brands themselves.

Tony Davis, former vice-president of international sales at the Dollar Thrifty Group, is part of the consortium and has been named CEO. Davis will manage day-to-day operations from the car rental's corporate head office in Tampa. Epstein will serve as the company's chairman.

"CarRental8.com is a dream company; it has a technological platform that is built for speed and scale," said Epstein, who is also chief executive officer of Itel-BPO Solutions.

Itel-BPO currently manages 50 per cent of CarRental8's sales and customer service from Jamaica.

Epstein said that the rental car industry is worth $51 billion, with average revenue growth of 13 per cent. He sees an opportunity to grow revenues within the region.

"To open up the Caribbean market inbound to the US as well as the Latin American market ... to Europe and grow the Asia to Hawaii market too," said Epstein.

Currently, CarRental8.com takes more than 65,000 bookings annually, with 80 per cent of the business coming from US domestic travel and the remaining 20 per cent via inbound travellers to the US.

Davis said the acquisition was strategic.

"Knowing CarRental8's reputation of delivering both great value and quality service to customers throughout the world is what attracted us to the business from the start. We will bring more than 50 years of hospitality experience, a new energy and enthusiasm to this already well-respected brand and take it to new heights," he said in a release.

Yves Boyer, another partner and the founder of the company, is hopeful about the new leadership in growing the business.

"As the founder of CarRental8.com, I am excited and confident that these new investors, under Tony's leadership as CEO, will be able to scale up the business drastically and rapidly," Boyer said.

Mayberry Investments has been instrumental in the growth and development of several Jamaican businesses.

"We are happy to have been a part of this transaction which not only helped to improve the investors' bottom line, but also to help drive economic growth," said Mayberry CEO Gary Peart. "Our intention is to assist as many companies as possible, both publicly and privately, to meet their objectives and to create value for investors, both locally and internationally," he said.

steven.jackson@gleaner.com