Pressure from activist investors continued to push Hertz Global Holdings to consider a possible spinoff or sale of its Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. division, according to Bloomberg and other sources. Hertz surged to a record stock price last week after adopting a “poison pill” (a one-year shareholder rights plan) after “unusual and substantial” trading, which, the company believed, was caused by activist investors. Analysts said that shareholders no longer see a benefit to keeping the equipment rental unit tied to Hertz’ primary car-rental business because of the cash-intensive nature of equipment rental and lack of synergies and completely separate customer bases between the two businesses.
Despite solid stock-price improvement, Hertz’ returns still lagged behind those of rival Avis Budget Group. Analysts believe that with the equipment rental market on an upswing, the timing is propitious for the company to command a strong price in a potential sale. While Hertz has not commented publicly, it has acknowledged an ongoing dialog with shareholders.
CNBC reported earlier this month that billionaire investor Carl Icahn has acquired as many as 40 million Hertz shares.
Analysts said that without the equipment division, Hertz’ free cash flow would increase significantly because of the elimination of estimated capital investments of $250 million in 2014.
No strategic suitors have admitted an interest in acquiring the Park Ridge, N.J.-based equipment rental company, the third largest in the equipment rental industry. The rental industry’s largest company, United Rentals, acquired the industry’s second-largest player, Rental Service Corp., in 2012. While analysts close to the situation believe a sale of the unit is possible, a possible spinoff of HERC as a separate company is another possibility believed to be under consideration.