Hertz Investors Said to Propose Adding Penske to Board

At least two big Hertz Global Holdings Inc. investors plan to meet this week with its new chairwoman to propose adding industry veteran Roger Penske to the board, people familiar with the plans said.

The shareholders -- in addition to seeking the appointment of Penske -- are also asking Chairman Linda Fayne Levinson to consider adding to the board William Lobeck, former chief executive officer of Vanguard Car Rental, and Vince Wasik, former CEO of National car rental and a Hertz franchisee, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the meetings are private. Racing mogul Penske is a Hertz franchisee as well as the founder of transportation-services company Penske Corp.

The investors, who want Hertz to hire Scott Thompson, former CEO of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc., to run Hertz, see the additional directors as shoring up the few weaknesses in Thompson’s resume, namely a lack of experience with international operations and premium brands, the people said. Other names were suggested, said the people. Richard Broome, a Hertz spokesman, declined to comment.

“As directors, the executives would add both top-level strategic experience and the viewpoint of in-the-field, customer-facing operators,” Erik Gordon, a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, said in an e-mail.

Big Wheel

Penske, 77, is a former race-car driver and current racing-team owner. He also runs Penske Automotive Group Inc., the second-largest U.S.-based group of auto dealerships. The former director of General Electric Co. and Home Depot Inc. casts a wide shadow in Detroit, joining automakers and other companies last year in donating $8 million to provide ambulances and patrol cars to the city’s fire and police department.

Penske, Wasik and Lobeck declined to comment.

Mark Frissora stepped down as Hertz’s CEO and chairman Sept. 8 after investors had pushed for his removal, citing accounting and operational missteps. Frissora left for personal reasons, the Naples, Florida-based company said in a statement. The board appointed Brian P. MacDonald, who joined Hertz as head of Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. in June, to serve as interim CEO and Levinson, independent lead director, was appointed nonexecutive chairman. The board has begun a search for a permanent chief.

Frissora, 59, was appointed CEO in 2006 before Hertz’s initial public offering. He oversaw the company’s 2012 acquisition of Dollar Thrifty, which shrank the number of major U.S. rental-car companies to three from four.

Hertz has been unable to capitalize on the pricing power that its consolidation created. While Avis Budget Group Inc. has raised its outlook and saw its stock rise 57 percent this year, Hertz dropped 3.2 percent. It hasn’t reported financial results yet this year and said its previous three years of statements aren’t reliable.

Enterprise Holdings Inc., which acquired Vanguard and its Alamo and National brands in 2007, is the largest rental-car company in the U.S. based on sales, followed by Hertz and Avis.

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