By Mike Spector

NEW YORK (.) – Car rental firm Hertz Global Holdings Inc He filed for bankruptcy in the United States after his business was severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and discussions with his creditors failed to ease his heavy financial burden.

The board of directors had already advanced on Friday that the company would file for bankruptcy protection law in a court in the state of Delaware, according to court documents.

The company also has operations in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, which were not included in the legal proceedings in the United States.

Hertz, whose main shareholder is billionaire Carl Icahn with a 39% stake, was hit by confinement orders and travel bans issued by US authorities to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

A good chunk of Hertz’s income comes from airport car rentals, which evaporated because potential customers stopped traveling.

With nearly $ 19 billion in debt and 38,000 employees worldwide by the end of 2019, Hertz is among the top global companies to fall victim to the pandemic.

The health crisis generated by COVID-19 has also caused a cascade of bankruptcies or bankruptcy warnings by companies that depend on the demand for fuels, such as retail chains, restaurants and gas stations.

Until now, US airlines have evaded this scenario, receiving billions of dollars in government aid, a route that Hertz explored without success.

The Estero, Florida-based company, which operates the Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty businesses, had been in discussions with its creditors after falling behind on significant amounts of car rental payments in April.

The leniency or late payment agreements for unpaid payments expired on May 22. Hertz has $ 1 billion in cash.

Even before the pandemic, Hertz and his peers were already under financial pressure because their clients began to prefer transportation services like Uber. . To confront Uber, Hertz adopted a recovery plan, with the goal of modernizing his smartphone apps and improving management of his rental car fleet. Hertz was born around 1918, when Walter Jacobs, then a pioneer in car rental, founded a company that allowed customers to temporarily drive one of the Ford Motor Co T-models. , according to the company’s website.

(Report by Mike Spector in New York. Edited in Spanish by Marion Giraldo)