| HBS Case Collection
(Revised October 2013)
United Rentals (B)
In April 2012, Jenne Britell, the Chairman of the board of directors of United Rentals, Inc. (NYSE: URI) was preparing her notes for an upcoming stockholders' meeting. It was a meeting unlike most other meetings she had chaired. Stockholders were about to vote on a transaction that was perhaps the ultimate fulfillment of the founders' original vision. She was reminded of the company's founding just 15 years earlier and its meteoric growth. With a considerable sense of achievement and satisfaction, she reflected on her tenure as board chair commencing five years ago. Elected to the board in 2006 and then unanimously selected by her peers as Chairman in June 2008, Britell led the board through the aftermath of a tumultuous period that included senior management and board changes, a SEC investigation, financial restatements, the jilting of the company by Cerberus Capital Management in a transaction to acquire URI, and the deepest recession to hit the global economy since the Great Depression. At the meeting, stockholders would be asked to consider approval of a merger agreement between URI, the largest equipment rental company in the world, with RSC, the second largest equipment rental company in the world and URI's largest competitor. The meeting would mark the triumph of a new governance model and company strategy whose development and implementation Britell and CEO Michael Kneeland had led. As Britell reflected on the hard won gains, she also looked forward to the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead as the company managed the integration of RSC's operations with URI and the integration of three new board members from the acquired company. She also reflected on how governance and strategy could continue to evolve as the company planned for the next five years.
Keywords: corporate governance;
boards of directors;
Governing and Advisory Boards;
Lorsch, Jay W., and Kathleen Durante. "United Rentals (B)". Harvard Business School Supplement 414-031, July 2013. (Revised October 2013.)