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Travel company Cendant, the owner of Avis and Budget car hire firms, is in advanced talks to buy travel website Orbitz for $1bn.

Orbitz was started by five US airlines in 2000 and floated on Nasdaq for $300m in December 2003. It competes with the likes of Expedia and Travelocity, offering flights, hotels and vacations. Shares jumped 25 per cent late last night on reports of an imminent takeover. Both companies held board meetings last night to decide on the deal, according to newswires.

The deal would give Cendant, with its traditional travel business, a big web presence. Cendant owns Ramada and several other hotel chains.

There is increasing consolidation in the online travel market. UK firm Ebookers said last month that it was also in talks about a possible takeover.

Orbitz founder Alex Zoghlin is about to launch a competing website called TrueConnect. ®

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