NAPLES — Investment firm Jana Partners urged Hertz to hire former Dollar Thrifty CEO Scott Thompson to lead the car-rental giant, saying the company's relocation from New Jersey to Southwest Florida has been disruptive.
Jana Partners is now Hertz' second-largest shareholder with control of 7% of the company's shares. The firm is second to activist investor Carl Icahn.
Mark Frissora, who engineered Hertz' corporate headquarters relocation from New Jersey to Naples while a new $85 million corporate headquarters is being built in nearby Estero, resigned as chairman and CEO of Hertz in September after a string of accounting and operational problems. The board appointed Brian McDonald as interim CEO while it searches for a replacement.
“As you know, we believe the CEO succession question currently facing the board is of vital importance and that the time to make a decision is long overdue,” Jana Partners' activist investor Barry Rosenstein writes in a letter to the board of Hertz filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “Over the years shareholders have endured accounting issues, the mishandled integration of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, a disruptive headquarters relocation to a less talent-rich location for limited benefit, an inability to forecast and communicate with Wall Street, operational missteps in Hertz' equipment rental business, and operational issues with fleet management, service quality and pricing discipline.”
“The board now has the opportunity to finally unlock Hertz' enormous value creation potential and to regain the company's lost credibility with investors, but doing so will require choosing a CEO who is a proven value creator in the car rental industry and has the necessary skills and experience,” writes Rosenstein. “That is why we, and most other shareholders and analysts with whom we have spoken, firmly believe that former Dollar Thrifty CEO Scott Thompson is the clear choice.”
Hertz acquired Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group in 2013, but investors have been critical of the integration of the two companies.