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Car rental company quits Fort Lauderdale

Vanguard Car Rental Inc., which operates the Alamo and National brands, is moving its headquarters and up to 700 jobs to Tulsa from Fort Lauderdale, officials announced Thursday.

The move makes Tulsa, already home to Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc., a center for the car rental business and offsets some of the thousands of layoffs the city has endured in the last two years.

Vanguard will hire up to 700 new employees in Tulsa in nearly all levels of the company and hopes to complete the relocation by the end of the year, said chief executive William Lobeck.

"We have given very serious consideration to locating to various states, and Oklahoma clearly demonstrated they have what is necessary to be competitive with anyone," said Lobeck, who has a home in Tulsa and whose wife is Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce Kathy Taylor.

The company, which employs about 14,000 workers in more than 80 countries, chose between staying in Fort Lauderdale and moving to Tulsa or Charleston, S.C.

Oklahoma officials said the headquarters would have a direct annual payroll of up to $38.5-million, for an average salary of $55,000. They also said the relocation would create 590 more jobs to serve Vanguard.

"This announcement is particularly significant because National and Alamo are world headquarter operations that will require senior-level, professional employees," Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry said.

National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car have fleets of about 217,000 automobiles in about 3,200 locations worldwide. Privately held Vanguard generated revenues of about $2.4-billion in 2002.

Vanguard, which also sells auto liability insurance, purchased Alamo and National from ANC Rental Corp. in October 2003. The company would not disclose the purchase price.

Tulsa has lost more than 20,000 jobs in the last two years and, in one 12-month stretch in that span, lost jobs faster than anywhere else except San Jose, Calif.