Growing pressure from activist investors might have gotten the better of Mark Frissora, Chairman and CEO of Hertz Global Holdings, who announced Monday he was stepping down from both roles at the car and equipment rental company.
Citing personal reasons for Frissora's departure, Hertz said in a statement that Brian MacDonald, president and CEO of the company's equipment rental business, would become interim CEO, while independent lead director Linda Fayne Levinson would assume the role of appointed independent non-executive Chair of the board.
A number of the biggest names in the activist hedge fund world had taken stakes in Hertz since December, including Dan Loeb's Third Point and Jana Partners, which prompted the company to enact a shareholder rights plan, or poison pill defense to ward off activist aggression at the board level.
That didn't stop Carl Icahn, who last month announced an 8.5% stake in Hertz and stated he was gunning for control of the company due to what he said at the time were concerns over "shareholder value, accounting issues, operational failures, underperformance relative to its peers" and his "lack of confidence in management."
"During Mark's tenure, Hertz has transformed from a single on-airport car rental brand to a world leading rental car company with a portfolio of brands that reach multiple consumer and business segments both on- and off-airport," Hertz's Levinson said in a statement. "With the acquisition of [fleet leasing and management service] Donlen, not only did he bring the Company into fleet leasing, but acquired important technology that gives both leasing and car rental a competitive advantage. We appreciate his strong commitment to Hertz."