Hertz Global Holdings chairman and CEO Mark Frissora has stepped down, nearly three weeks after activist investor Carl Icahn revealed that he had acquired 8.5% of the company to pressure management about "underperformance."
Frissora stepped down “for personal reasons,” Hertz said, and has been replaced on an interim basis by Brian McDonald, CEO of the company’s Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. Board member Linda Fayne Levinson takes over as independent non-executive chairwoman.
Hertz didn’t provide further details about Frissora's resignation. The company said it has begun a CEO search.
Frissora had been Hertz CEO since July 2006. Hertz went public later that year.
Frissora oversaw the company’s $2.6 billion acquisition of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group in 2012. Hertz generated $10.8 billion in revenue last year, up from $8.69 billion in 2007, Frissora’s first full year overseeing the company.
But Hertz hasn’t reported any financial results this year because of accounting issues the company discovered for its past three years of statements.
Frissora's leadership has been questioned by some of the company’s larger investors. When Icahn announced his Hertz stake, he said he intended to discuss Hertz’s “shareholder value, accounting issues, operational failures and underperformance relative to its peers" and his “lack of confidence in management.”
Fir Tree Partners, which owns about 3% of Hertz shares, in late August started pushing for a change in leadership.
Fir Tree spokesman Scott Tagliarino, in an interview with Bloomberg News, cited "serious missteps" by Frissora as a reason why Hertz should pursue a CEO change.
Hertz shares were up about 1% at about noon Monday, though they have been down almost 10% since Icahn announced his Hertz stake Aug. 20.
Last year, Hertz accounted for a quarter of the $24.5 billion U.S. rental car market, second only to Enterprise Holdings’ 48%, according to trade publication Auto Rental News.
Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly.