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Priceline.com Names its Own Price for Rentalcars.com

Online travel site Priceline.com known for its "name your own price" tag line said it has purchased Rentalcars.com for an undisclosed amount.

Under the terms of the agreement, Priceline Monday said it is taking over the domain name and customer base of Penn Valley, Pa.-based Rentalcars.com. The site reserves cars through the major rental companies on a discounted, published-price basis. The acquisition means Priceline now controls Priceline.com, Lowestfare.com and Rentalcars.com.

While most of its financial info is shielded in its private books, Rentalcars.com boasts upwards of 300,000 visitors a month and more than $10 million in gross bookings.

Priceline.com Vice President of Rental Cars Paul Hennessy said the purchase was part of the company's larger strategy of "expansion into retail travel markets."

"In addition to getting a Web address so closely associated with rental car shopping, this purchase also furthers priceline.com's goal of becoming a one-stop-shop for travelers, enabling them to fill all their travel needs on a retail or a Name Your Own Price basis, depending on their personal and trip preferences," Hennessy said. "Through its own Web site and its retail subsidiary, Lowestfare.com, priceline.com already offers airline tickets, hotel rooms and vacation packages on separate Name Your Own Priceand retail bases."

Best known for its marquee pitchman, William Shatner (aka Captain Kirk), the Norwalk, Conn.-based firm has long suffered from the stigma of the dot-com bubble. So bad were its troubles, that company executives this month enacted a reverse stock split to prevent the company from being delisted on the NASDAQ.

Now, the company says its acquisition allows it to give discounted rates on many different vehicle types, ranging from Economy (Chevrolet Metro or similar) to Convertibles or SUVs.

Earlier this year, Priceline saw a its first-quarter-to-date hotel revenue increased approximately 35 percent over the corresponding period in 2002.

And that's a good thing, since Priceline reported its airline ticketing revenue decline in the last quarter of 2002 as the airline industry's financial difficulties continued in the wake of the events on Sept. 11, 2001.