DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. could spin off its Hertz Corp. rental car business in an initial public offering.
The automaker, which initially signaled its interest in divesting Hertz in April, filed a registration statement Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission seeking an IPO of a portion of its interest in Hertz. Following an IPO, Ford could divest its remaining ownership interest in Hertz through a secondary offering or a tax-free spinoff to Ford shareholders, Ford spokesman Glenn Ray said.
"Our bondholders are interested in seeing us receive cash for Hertz, and our stockholders want us to unlock trapped value," Ray said. "An IPO would help us do both of these."
Ford has decided to divest its interest in Hertz, clarifying its April 20th statement that it was exploring options for the rental car company. But Monday's filing doesn't guarantee an IPO.
Another option still in play is an outright sale to a third party, Ray said. Ford could stop the IPO process at any time if such a buyer emerges. Ray said he doesn't know whether Ford is talking with any potential buyers.
Ford has not set a timetable for wrapping up the Hertz divestiture.
In 2004, Hertz reported pre-tax profits of $493 million, up from $228 million in 2003. The improvement reflected higher car rental volume, improved pricing and volume in the North American equipment rental business and higher profits from the disposal of used vehicles and equipment.
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