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LONDON-Instead of presiding over British Airways' much-publicized $135 million account review in London in April, Director of Marketing Michael Batt is swapping planes for rental cars and heading for sunny Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Welsh-born Mr. Batt's surprise move to Alamo Rent-A-Car, where he starts his new job March 20 as exec VP-sales and marketing of the new Alamo/North America division, was prompted by along-felt desire: He loves the U.S.

"Brits either love it or hate it," he said. "I love the people and the way the U.S. does business. I knew I wanted to go back."

BA was unable to find him a suitable U.S. job after two years back in London following a three-year stint in New York. So Mr. Batt turned to Alamo, a BA supplier. He already knew and had done business with Michael S. Egan, the owner and chairman-CEO of privately held Alamo, and Macdonald Clark, who previously held the sales and marketing post and now moves up to president.

Alamo is No. 4 in the U.S. car rental market in fleet size and sales. Sales hit $1.2 billion in 1994, up from $500 million just six years ago. Less well-known internationally than Hertz Corp. or Avis, Alamo says its goal is to become "a global business leader in car rental services." Alamo has 118 locations in the U.S. and 72 in Europe.

"Alamo has gone from nowhere to be a major player with a global presence but it's not yet a major player in Europe, and the brand could probably be enhanced in the U.S.," Mr. Batt said.

Mr. Batt, 40, brings a wealth of experience in applying the knowledge he gained in package goods at Mars Confectionery and branding individual services at BA.

Although his new job is within Alamo's North American division, it includes worldwide marketing for traffic bound for the U.S.

Currently most of Alamo's ad budget is spent in the U.S., through agency Hal Riney & Partners, San Francisco. The company spent $24.4 million for the first nine months of 1994, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Appropriately for someone in the travel industry, Mr. Batt's career path has kept him on the move. Although he spent eight years at BA and 10 at Mars Confectionery, he has changed jobs every 18 months to two years since joining Mars as a salesman in 1977.

In his briefest job, he joined rival airline Virgin Atlantic in 1989 for three days, but knew before the end of day one it was a mistake. He returned to BA with a promotion to head of central marketing.


Michael Batt

BIRTH DATE: Aug. 31, 1954, in Gwent, Wales

EDUCATION: BSc, University of Wales

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Director of marketing, British Airways, 1993-95; previous jobs at BA as regional general manager Americas, senior VP-sales in marketing in the U.S. and head of brands; spent 10 years in marketing positions at Mars Confectionery.

PERSONAL: Married, no children

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