* Hertz alleges defamation
* Analyst stands behind methods, to defend against lawsuit
* Hertz's shares rise
(Adds details from lawsuit, defendants' response, byline)
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, Sept 28 Hertz Global Holdings Inc
(HTZ.N) has sued an analyst for defamation over a report it
said suggests the world's largest car rental company could go
In a complaint filed Friday with the Bergen County Superior
Court in New Jersey, Hertz accused Audit Integrity Inc and its
chief executive, Jack Zwingli, of defamation and trade libel
over a Sept. 15 report that included Hertz among 20 large
companies "most likely to declare bankruptcy" within a year.
Mark Frissora, Hertz's chief executive, in a statement on
Monday called the lawsuit "an appropriate response to the
publication of false and harmful information" about Hertz.
"Not only are the conclusions about our financial health
baseless, but questioning the integrity of our financial
reporting is indefensible," he added.
Zwingli said in a statement: "We are disappointed that
Hertz has taken this action in an attempt to stifle an opinion
they do not agree with. We firmly stand behind our methodology
and findings, and will vigorously defend ourselves against this
Hertz shares were up 40 cents, or 3.7 percent, at $11.09 in
early afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. They
have traded in a range of $1.55 to $11.99 over the last year.
In its complaint, Hertz said the defendants had "no factual
basis" for saying its financial statements were fraudulent. It
also said that, had they used generally recognized methods to
detect fraud, they would have concluded otherwise, or that they
lacked sufficient information to say there was fraud.
Hertz said Audit Integrity announced the report on Sept. 16
and that Zwingli discussed it later that day on CNBC
television, which is owned by General Electric Co (GE.N).
"The unmistakable assertion disseminated by defendants in
their public statements is that Hertz lacks integrity, lies to
shareholders and others, engages in fraudulent financial
reporting, and is heading for bankruptcy," Hertz said.
Hertz is seeking monetary damages, including punitive
damages, and a retraction, among other remedies. GE is not a
defendant in the case.
According to its website, Audit Integrity provides
"accounting and governance risk analysis," using proprietary
modeling that "effectively detects and measures fraud and
transparency-related risks" in more than 8,500 public
Hertz is based in Park Ridge, New Jersey, and said it has
about 8,000 offices in 145 countries. Audit Integrity has
offices in Los Angeles and New York.
The case is Hertz Global Holdings Inc v. Audit Integrity
Inc. Superior Court of New Jersey (Bergen County).
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; editing by Maureen Bavdek and