Chinese car rental business eHi Car Services, in which Ctrip is the largest investor, has filed for an IPO in New York.

Ctrip, which owns 23% of eHi, is also its “designated and preferred business partner”.

US  car rental giant Enterprise holds a 21% stake in eHi, with the pair having “a global affiliation agreement” in place since 2012.

The filing does not suggest any pricing details or put a value on the business.

eHi Car Services is the “No. 1 car services provider and No. 2 car rentals provider in China in terms of market share by revenues in 2013, according to Frost & Sullivan.”

Online and mobile are important. “In the six months ended June 30, 2014, 52.8% and 30.0% of our car rental services were derived from reservations made through our website and mobile applications, respectively,” eHi said.

Ctrip got involved with the business late last year as part of a $100m funding round. A Ctrip spokesperson told Tnooz at the time:

“Car rental is a very small business for Ctrip now but (it) has great potential. Ctrip is still an OTA model for travel related services but with the strategic investment, we could with our strategic partners more closely (grow) together in the future.”

That potential could be huge. The top three players in the Chinese market – of which eHi is one of the three – account for just over 10% of the total market by revenues. Capitalisng on that level of fragmentation opens up significant growth opportunities.

The IPO filing, which runs to some 300 pages, refers to eHi’s relationship with Ctrip throughout the document.

Mentions include:

“Ctrip has integrated access to our online reservation system on its website since May 2012 and in its mobile applications since June 2014….

“We believe our partnership with Ctrip provides us access to Ctrip’s large user base and help us grow user traffic and revenue.

“We also benefit from the vision and experience of Ctrip’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, James Liang, who is a member of our board of directors….

“We pay a fixed percentage of rental rates from successful car rental referrals as commissions to Ctrip….

“While we maintain cooperation with Ctrip in various aspects, we did not enter into any written partnership agreement with Ctrip.”

Elsewhere, it also mentions Expedia and Taobao and China Eastern Airlines as distribution partners.

Original author: Martin Cowen