United Rentals to Buy Back Up to 27 Million Shares

The board of United Rentals has approved a “modified Dutch auction” tender offer to purchase up to 27.16 million shares of its common stock at between $22 and $25 per share, the company said last week. The number of shares is about 31.4 percent of the total number of shares of common stock currently outstanding. The total purchase price of the stock could be $679 million if all the shares are purchased at maximum price.

Shares of United Rentals jumped 15 percent to $22.50 in pre-market trading Tuesday on volume of 52,200 shares. At the close of trading Friday, United Rentals stock was trading at $21.80, more than $2 higher than before the buyback was announced.

United intends to commence the offer this week and keep the offer open for at least 20 business days. The company also said it repurchased all of its outstanding Series C preferred stock and Series D preferred stock, a majority of which was held by Apollo Investment Fund IV and Apollo Overseas Partners.

“We believe that these share repurchases represent an opportunity to achieve significantly more EPS accretion, and to capture it more quickly, than through any other means,” said interim CEO Michael Kneeland. “Moreover, we believe that the tender offer will benefit stockholders by providing an efficient mechanism for those who desire it to obtain liquidity at a premium over recent trading prices and, for our remaining stockholders, an enhanced ability to participate in the long-term earnings potential of our business.”

In anticipation of the share repurchases, United entered into a new $1.25 billion asset-based loan facility and repaid the $464 million outstanding under the company’s former revolving credit facility and term loan. The new debt issuances, combined with the existing debt of the company, are expected to result in total pro forma leverage ratios that the company views as reasonable, the company said. The company also said the share repurchases will be accretive to currently projected earnings per share, excluding a one-time charge of about $235 million recorded as a reduction of income available to common stockholders as a result of the purchase of the preferred stock.

Based in Greenwich, Conn., United Rentals is No. 1 on the RER 100.

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