Hertz Considers Sale of Equipment Rental Unit

Hertz Global Holdings Inc., which has made a renewed bid for smaller rival Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, may consider spinning off its equipment rental unit to focus on its car rental business, a top executive said.

The equipment business, which rents out excavators, electrical tools and air compressors among other industrial products, accounts for 15 percent of the company’s revenue and has been undergoing restructuring to cut costs.

Hertz said as the effect of the restructuring starts to show in the unit’s operating results in the next 12 to 24 months, the company may consider spinning it off or explore other options. “We would only do that if we generate positive shareholder value and get a fair valuation for the business,” Chief Executive Mark Frissora said at a Wells Fargo Securities Industrial and Construction Conference. “That is a possibility and it is something we might look at in the future.”

Hertz was acquired from Ford Motor Co. in 2005 by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, The Carlyle Group and BAML Capital Partners; through an IPO and subsequent offerings of stock they had reduced their ownership stake to 39 percent as of March, according to an SEC filing.

Hurt by the economic downturn, Hertz closed about 22 branches in its U.S. equipment rental business in 2008. It also restructured its car hire business, closing 250 off-airport car rentals. In its most-recent quarter, equipment rental revenues rose 13 percent to $268.2 million.

The CEO’s comments come a day after Hertz raised its bid for Dollar Thrifty by about 30 percent to $2.1 billion—the latest move in its 13-month-long battle with Avis Budget Group Inc to buy the smaller car rental company.

Hertz shares were recently trading at $16.50 on the New York Stock Exchange, while shares of Dollar Thrifty were trading at $81.66.

(Megha Mandavia and A. Ananthalakshmi report for Reuters news service in Bangalore)