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Rental car giant Avis Budget Group has agreed to buy car-sharing network Zipcar for $500 million in cash, the two companies announced today.

Avis will pay $12.25 per share for Zipcar, a premium of about 50 percent over Zipcar’s share price on Dec. 31. The deal will help Avis get an immediate handle on the quickly growing car-sharing marketplace.

“By combining with Zipcar, we will significantly increase our growth potential, both in the United States and internationally, and will position our company to better serve a greater variety of consumer and commercial transportation needs,” Avis Budget Group CEO Ronald Nelson said in a statement. “We see car sharing as highly complementary to traditional car rental, with rapid growth potential and representing a scalable opportunity for us as a combined company.”

Once the deal is completed, Zipcar will operate as a subsidiary of Avis. Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith and COO Mark Norman will likely continue to run the day-to-day operations of Zipcar.

Avis said it expects “to generate $50 to $70 million in annual synergies” in relation to the deal. Avis sees serious opportunities to increase Zipcar’s weekend fleet availability, which it will boost using Avis cars.

Avis also said it expects its full-year 2012 revenue will be about $7.3 billion, a 24 percent increase over 2011.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013.

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