Hertz appoints former Ford CEO as interim chief

Hertz Global Holdings Inc.

HTZZ 9.87%

uses the old Ford Motor Co.

CEO Mark Fields as interim CEO and moved CEO Paul Stone to president and chief operating officer.

The change in management comes as the Estero, Florida-based company resets after coming out of bankruptcy under a new owner and demand for rental cars picked up after bookings were crushed at the start of the pandemic .

The Wall Street Journal reported in September that the company was in talks to appoint a new CEO. A spokeswoman for Hertz said the search for a permanent chief executive was continuing.

Mr. Fields has been a member of the Hertz Board of Directors since June and is also a Senior Advisor at TPG Capital LP. He is a veteran of the automotive industry, having worked his way up the executive ranks at Ford to become CEO of the automotive company in 2014. He left Ford three years later.

Hertz shares rose nearly 10% at Tuesday’s close.

“Mark’s vast automotive and technology experience will be essential as we remake Hertz for the future,” said Greg O’Hara, president of Hertz and founder of Certares Management LLC. Hertz is now controlled by a group of investors led by Certares and Knighthead Capital Management LLC.

Mr Stone had led Hertz since May 2020, taking the top spot just days before the company filed for bankruptcy. Mr. Stone will remain with the rental car company as president and chief operating officer.

The leadership changes come as the new owners of Hertz seek to revamp the century-old company, implementing new software to improve inventory management and better forecast customer demand. There is also a trend to transition the fleet to include more electric vehicles.

The car rental industry has faced several challenges since the pandemic began in March 2020. Initially, a sharp drop in travel and the drop in the value of used cars weighed on revenues. Companies like Hertz and rival Avis Budget Group have tried to cut costs by downsizing their fleets, implementing job cuts and cutting executive pay.

Hertz filed for bankruptcy in May 2020, as the heavily indebted company suffered from a collapse in bookings.

Over the past year, business has rebounded as travel restrictions were lifted and more Americans received Covid-19 vaccines. At the same time, Hertz and other car rental companies are struggling to keep up with the surge in bookings due to a lack of vehicles to supply customers, as the wider auto industry faces a shortage of new vehicles. . The shortfall drives up rental car prices and leaves less options for renters.

Mr. Fields has spent his entire career at Ford, starting in a marketing role and rotating several positions overseas, including managerial positions in Asia and Europe. He was trained to succeed former CEO Alan Mulally, before taking the helm in 2014.

During his tenure as CEO, Mr. Fields oversaw a period of record profit and growth overseas and worked to position Ford for success in the transition to electric vehicles and other advanced technologies. But Ford’s stock price continued to fall at the time.

He was replaced by then Ford chief executive Jim Hackett, who served three years before retiring a year ago, handing over the post to current chief executive Jim Farley.

Since leaving Ford, Mr. Fields has served as a senior advisor to private equity firm TPG and has joined the boards of Qualcomm. Inc.

and the cybersecurity company Tanium.

This summer, it has been more difficult than ever to rent a car in the United States, especially at popular vacation destinations. To find out what is behind the surge in rental car prices, WSJ spoke with an industry analyst and WSJ’s Nora Naughton. Photo: Luke Sharrett / Bloomberg

Write to Nora Naughton at Nora.Naughton@wsj.com and Dave Sebastian at dave.sebastian@wsj.com

Copyright © 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the October 6, 2021 print edition as “Hertz appoints former Ford CEO as interim chief”.

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