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Written by: Staff

FRANKFURT, Feb 24 (Reuters) Volkswagen is very satisfied with the bids it has received for car rental firm Europcar but has not ruled out a public listing for the business, a source familiar with the situation said on Friday.

''An order of magnitude of around 3 billion euros ($3.57 billion) for enterprise value is certainly realistic,'' the source said of the offers.

He told Reuters that more than two but fewer than 10 parties had submitted bids, including private equity firm JP Morgan Partners.

Another source said at least four bidders were in, including an alliance grouping German rental car group Sixt and private equity group Apax; JP Morgan Partners; investment firm Cerberus, and insurer Allianz.

''The ball is now in VW's court,'' the first source said, noting that a public listing for Europe's biggest car rental firm remained one alternative given the Europcar staff's opposition to selling the company to a financial investor.

A Volkswagen spokesman declined comment other than to say: ''All options are still open.'' Volkswagen shares, the best-performing car stock in Europe this year, were up 0.4 per cent to 59.14 euros by 1120 GMT (1650 IST), half the gain by the DJ Stoxx European car sector index.

Europcar works council head Bernd Lubig said this week that Europcar President Stefan Jacoby had assured workers VW would not sell the company to a buyer that wanted to break it up.

Volkswagen has said its options for Europcar include a sale, a public listing or a strategic expansion.

It has said in the past that selling Europcar to Sixt -- Germany's biggest car rental agency -- could trigger antitrust problems.

Cerberus owns U.S. rental group ANC with its National and Alamo units.

An alliance comprising investment firms Clayton Dubilier&Rice, Carlyle and Merrill Lynch Global Equity -- which bought Ford's Hertz rental agency last year -- has dropped out of the running, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.

Paris-based Europcar said last week its 2005 pretax profit rose by a fifth to 101 million euros on sales up 9 per cent to 1.28 billion.


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