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Rental Car Giant Hertz Files For Bankruptcy Protection

By Suzanne Nuyen NPR

Car rental company Hertz filed for bankruptcy protection Friday, citing an “abrupt decline in revenue” during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hertz is just the latest high-profile company to feel the financial pain of the COVID-19 crisis: Retailers J.C. Penney, J. Crew, and Neiman Marcus all filed for bankruptcy protection this month. Home-decor chain Pier 1 Imports announced it would be closing for good, with final closing sales beginning Memorial Day weekend.

After many states began to declare stay at home orders in March, car rentals dried up, and Hertz reduced spending, implemented furloughs and laid off 20,000 employees.

In April the company, which includes car-rental brands Dollar, Thrifty and Firefly, missed a payment on its debt, but reached a short-term deal with its creditors. The company was unable to secure a long-term agreement.

The filing excludes Hertz’s international operating regions in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, as well as its more than 10,000 franchised locations. The company said it would use more than $1 billion in cash on hand to support its ongoing operations as it proceeds with the bankruptcy process. The company will continue to honor reservations, promotional offers, vouchers and rewards points programs.

“Today’s action will protect the value of our business, allow us to continue our operations and serve our customers, and provide the time to put in place a new, stronger financial foundation to move successfully through this pandemic and to better position us for the future,” said CEO Paul Stone in a statement. “Our loyal customers have made us one of the world’s most iconic brands, and we look forward to serving them now and on their future journeys.”

In addition to its financial woes, Hertz has been under management upheaval. Stone was named CEO on May 18 — days before the bankruptcy filing — after Kathryn Marinello stepped down. He previously served as executive vice president and chief retail operations officer for North America.

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