Avis Letter to DTAG Slams Hertz Deal

Avis Budget Group Inc. sent the following letter to Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc.:

September 27, 2010

Thomas P. Capo, Chairman, and
Scott L. Thompson, President and Chief Executive Officer
Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc.
5330 East 31st Street
Tulsa, OK 74135

Dear Scott and Tom,

We believe that the Board of Directors of Dollar Thrifty should have declared our recent offer to be a superior proposal, and do not agree with the Board's purported reasons for not doing so.

We believe that Dollar Thrifty shareholders deserve to receive the highest value for their investment, and the latest "best and final" offer from Hertz is not the highest value available to your shareholders. Based on our current analysis, the price being offered by Hertz provides double digit accretion in earnings to Hertz, while our higher offer would afford Dollar Thrifty shareholders an opportunity to participate in a larger share of the value to be created through a business combination.

We recognize that antitrust approval is a hurdle for an Avis Budget-Dollar Thrifty deal, but the reality is that there are significant remaining antitrust hurdles for the Hertz deal as well.  

While we have been consistent in our message on antitrust from the outset, Hertz's characterization of its antitrust posture has been changing, for the worse, from the first announcement of the transaction. In April 2010, Hertz officials confidently predicted that "the deal should be completed no later than the early part of the fourth quarter" - in other words, within the next few weeks or so (The New York Times Dealbook, Hertz Aims to Push Forward with Dollar Thrifty¸ April 26, 2010). Then, Mark Frissora said he was "really pleased with the pace" of the FTC review and that the FTC review was on a "quick look - which means the time for a second review is less than what it would normally be" (Hertz Second Quarter 2010 Earnings Call, August 4, 2010). Now, Hertz is saying that neither Hertz nor Dollar Thrifty has substantially complied with the Second Request, and that the FTC review is not likely to be completed until the end of the year.  Avis Budget, in contrast, has substantially completed its response to its Second Request. 

Hertz's statements on required remedies have been equally inconsistent. Hertz had initially suggested that no divestiture of Advantage would be required to obtain antitrust clearance - on its First Quarter 2010 Earnings Call, Mr. Frissora indicated that "[i]t's just an issue that there may be a few airports that may be carved out, maybe not." Now, after more than four months of antitrust review, Hertz has confirmed that there is no agreement of any kind with the FTC on remedies, the divestiture of Advantage is required at a minimum, and more actions may be necessary in order to obtain clearance.  In fact, the data make clear that if the FTC compels divestitures at airports at which the number of serving firms is reduced from four to three and the combined Hertz-Dollar Thrifty share exceeds 35%, then the revenues that Hertz will be required to divest will far exceed the amount it has committed to in its merger agreement. Advantage, after all, is located at just a scant few of those airports.

This highlights why it makes no sense for Dollar Thrifty to hold a shareholder meeting on September 30 while the FTC's evaluation of both the Hertz deal and the Avis Budget deal continues and the outcome of such evaluation will not be known for many months. 

In the context of the antitrust issues associated with the sale of Dollar Thrifty to either Hertz or Avis Budget, we are prepared to make the following two concrete proposals:

  • If the shareholder vote on a Hertz-Dollar Thrifty deal is delayed until December 30, Avis Budget will commit - even without an agreement with you - to continue to diligently pursue antitrust clearance for its transaction through the end of the year. The best way to assure that the highest value is provided to Dollar Thrifty shareholders is to hold the shareholder vote on December 30 and let the FTC complete its review and render its findings.If Hertz is confident that its antitrust posture is so much better than ours, we do not see why Hertz would have any objection to delaying the shareholder vote.
  • Alternatively, if you are unable or unwilling to delay the shareholder vote, in the event the Hertz-Dollar Thrifty deal is not approved at the September 30 meeting, we will commit to commence an exchange offer at our recent offer price no later than 10 business days after the shareholder meeting. Such offer will be subject only to the terms and conditions in the merger agreement previously provided to you (as adjusted for an exchange offer structure and to address a technical modification of a credit agreement) and the Dollar Thrifty disclosure schedules previously delivered to us, and we will keep such offer open until the end of the year while we continue to pursue antitrust clearance.

Our willingness to agree to commence an exchange offer underscores our commitment to acquire Dollar Thrifty and, at the same time, will not require Dollar Thrifty to pay a breakup fee to Hertz - if such fee is ever appropriate to be paid - until either the recommendation of our offer by the Dollar Thrifty board or the successful completion of the offer. 

If the shareholder meeting is delayed or the Hertz deal is rejected by Dollar Thrifty shareholders, we believe shareholders will continue to have two bidders for Dollar Thrifty. We believe it is not credible that Hertz has made its "best and final offer" given the favorable economics in this deal for Hertz and the fact that it insisted on continuing to have matching rights against any competing acquisition proposal in its most recent merger agreement that supposedly represented its final bid. On the other hand, if the meeting proceeds on September 30 and the Dollar Thrifty shareholders approve the Hertz deal, that in effect would end the bidding and all that would be left is an inferior offer with regulatory uncertainties. Clearly, if the FTC decides to approve both deals, the Avis Budget proposal offers superior value and is the best deal for the Dollar Thrifty shareholders.

We hope that you will give us the opportunity to move forward on a transaction that will create significant value for our respective shareholders. 

Sincerely,

/s/ Ronald L. Nelson

Ronald L. Nelson
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Avis Budget Group, Inc.

cc: Board of Directors of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc. 

Citigroup and Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated are acting as financial advisors to Avis Budget Group, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Arnold & Porter LLP are acting as legal counsel.

Comments

  1. Mike [ September 30, 2010 @ 05:00AM ]

    Are you serious Mr. Nelson... sounds like you are playing to the tune of your own drummer. Hertz deal sounds SOLID. Yours sounds evasive. I would think DTG is not as greedy as to not put a solid deal together that brings their shareholders from trading in the penny stock to a huge gain coupled with a huge company.

    I'm always amazed at greed. If you want DTG so bad, put your money where your mouth is and increase your bid substantially and guarantee it. Could it be that you really don't have the money, you just don't want to be left out in the rain? Anyone can see what's going on here...

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