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China Car Service EHi Said to Hire Goldman, Barclays for IPO

EHi Car Rental, a vehicle-sharing network in China part-owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., hired Deutsche Bank AG and Barclays Plc for its U.S. initial public offering, said two people with knowledge of the plan.

The company, based in Shanghai, also chose Goldman Sachs to work on the IPO, which may raise $150 million, said the people, who declined to be identified as the process is private. The sale could occur as early as this year, they said.

Car rental service providers like Ehi and China Auto Rental Inc. are seeking money to invest on expanding their fleets and operation to cover more areas in the country. China’s rental car market is expected to rise by about 25 percent annually by 2015, according to estimates on the website of Roland Berger AG, a management consulting firm.

China Auto Rental, the country’s largest, said last month it’s seeking as much as $300 million in a U.S. initial public offering. Rising demand from companies and individuals for rental cars has lured investors including Goldman and Lenovo Holdings Ltd., which bought a stake in China Auto Rental in 2010.

EHi, founded in 2006, serves more than 50 Chinese cities, allowing people to drive themselves or rent chauffeured vehicles, according to its website. The company compares itself on the site to Zipcar Inc., the U.S. car-sharing service that completed an IPO last year. Zipcar, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has dropped 14 percent to $15.50 a share as of yesterday in New York trading, from the $18 a share IPO price.

Goldman Sachs, based in New York, agreed in August 2010 to lead an investment of $70 million in EHi, alongside Qiming Venture Partners, CDH Ventures, Ignition Capital, JAFCO Asia and New Access Capital, according to a statement from EHi then.

EHi’s spokesman in Shanghai didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. Spokesmen for Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Barclays declined to comment.

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