Knighthead, Certares Boost Bid to Buy Hertz From Bankruptcy

The fight to buy Hertz Global Holdings Inc. out of bankruptcy is escalating after a group of investors that were previously outbid sweetened their deal to give the reorganized company an enterprise value of around $6.2 billion.

The amended proposal from Knighthead Capital Management and Certares Management would pay unsecured bondholders in full, and offer existing shareholders equity in the reorganized company, according to people with knowledge of the plan who asked not to be identified discussing a private matter.

The new plan includes a private placement of $750 million in reorganized stock from ad hoc equity investors that would be available to eligible shareholders, the people said. Apollo Global Management agreed to provide $2.5 billion in preferred equity financing as part of the amended proposal, the people said. The deal assigns the reorganized Hertz an equity market value of around $5.5 billion.

Hertz shares surged as much as 46% Friday morning in New York to trade at $1.79.

Representatives for Knighthead, Certares and Apollo declined to comment. A representative for Hertz didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on the amended plan.

Hertz filed for bankruptcy in May when the near-total shutdown of the global travel industry sent its rental revenues plunging. It became a popular stock among day traders, who sent shares of the bankrupt company soaring, even though common shareholders are typically wiped out in Chapter 11 proceedings. Hertz briefly raised funds for its bankruptcy by selling stock, but abandoned the program after the Securities and Exchange Commission questioned the plan.

Earlier this month, Hertz chose a rival offer from Centerbridge Partners, Warburg Pincus and Dundon Capital Partners to help it exit bankruptcy. Under that plan, supporting noteholders agreed to support the exchange of unsecured funded debt claims against Hertz for about 48.2% of the equity in the reorganized company and the right to purchase an additional $1.6 billion of shares.

The sweetened offer from Knighthead gives the company a new option to consider as it works to leave court protection. Hertz aims to complete the process in June, and has put tentative restructuring terms in place for review and approval by a bankruptcy judge in Wilmington, Delaware.

Hertz is rushing to exit court protection to take advantage of the hot stock market and an expected surge in summer travel as more consumers are vaccinated against Covid-19.

The industry is raising prices as business and leisure travel surges and household-name rental companies don’t have enough cars for customers to drive off the lot. Firms are adding cars back to their fleets, but can only do so slowly since a semiconductor shortage has hampered production of new cars. Hertz, like rivals that didn’t file bankruptcy, sold large portions of its inventory and cut costs severely to shore up finances when U.S. travel ground to a halt last year.

The amended Knighthead and Certares plan also includes $550 million of cash in a recovery pool that would pay general unsecured creditors in full, the people said. It also includes a 250 million euro ($300 million) interim financing plan to help meet the liquidity needs of Hertz’s international businesses, they added.

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