Bess Levin

Posts by Bess Levin

  • 23 Apr 2014 at 5:48 PM

Layoffs Watch ’14: Barclays

It’s possible the Brits will be getting rid of a quarter of their investment banking employees and if you ask Sanford Bernstein, those at the top should go first. Read more »

Ackman, who has teamed up with Canadian pharmaceutical company Valeant to launch a $45.6 billion takeover of Botox maker Allergan, warned drugmakers Tuesday that he plans to go on a little buying spree. “This is not the last deal we’re going to do,” he said. “We’re already talking about the next deal we’re going to do with Valeant.” “There are $10 trillion worth of targets,” said Ackman, referring to the combined market cap of the pharmaceutical industry. “I call this the shopping list.” [NYP]


Last night, in an interview with CNBC, Carl Icahn had this to say about fellow hedge fund manager Bill Ackman and his recent bid with drugmaker Valiant Pharmaceuticals for Botox maker Allergan:

“We have our differences, but I never said he’s not a smart guy. I think the concept of this is good. I hope it works out better for him than Herbalife did, and I think it will…There’s nothing wrong with making a bid for a company and using someone else’s funds.”

Those of you who’ve kept up with Icahn and Ackman’s relationship know that Icahn saying he never said Ackman’s “not a smart guy” represents a complete 180 from his comments about the Pershing Square manager in the past. Those include but are not limited to:

  • To the New York Times: “How many times have judges been wrong? How many people have gone to the death chamber because they’re wrong? Ackman is dead wrong.”
  • On BloombergTV: “…it’s no secret I don’t like Ackman”
  • Also on BloombergTV: “I have no respect for him and I don’t like him and that’s not a secret.”
  • In the same interview on BloombergTV: “I dislike the guy, I don’t respect him, I’ve done business with him and he wasn’t forthright…that’s my opinion.”
  • Via press release: “To get the record straight, I never asked Ackman to be my friend.”
  • In the same press release: “Bill Ackman has recently stated ‘Carl Icahn is a great investor.’ I thank him but unfortunately I cannot return the compliment.”
  • On CNBC: “I was minding my own business in 2003 and I get a call from this Ackman guy and he’s like the crybaby in the school yard. I went to a tough school in Queens and they used to beat up the little Jewish boys and he was like these little Jewish boys crying saying the world was taking advantage of him. He was almost sobbing. And he’s in my office talking about this Hallwood deal and how I can help him. It’s like in the old song, I rue the day I ever met the guy.”
  • In the same interview on CNBC: “He’s the quintessential example of if you want a friend, get a dog.”
  • CNBC: “I wouldn’t invest with [Ackman] if [he] were the last man on earth.”

So to hear Icahn not only describe Ackman as not not smart but to compliment his “concept” was more than a little bit surprising. But why the about face? It’s possible it had something to do what happens at 2:58 here: Read more »

Or so he says. Read more »

Or something along those lines. Read more »

Just seconds after the prosecutor arguing the appeal introduced herself, the judges grilled her about the case and implied that Mr. Bharara’s office steered insider trading trials to Judge Richard J. Sullivan, who oversaw Mr. Chiasson’s and Mr. Newman’s trial and a subsequent case against another trader. The questioning appeared to send a cautionary message to Judge Sullivan, who is known for often siding with the government, and took a swipe at prosecutors for cherry-picking judges. Judge Barrington D. Parker — interrupting the prosecutor, Antonia M. Apps — referred to Judge Sullivan as the government’s apparent “preferred venue” for insider trading cases. While Ms. Apps argued that consolidating the cases created “judicial efficiencies,” another member of the appellate panel noted the “sheer coincidence that the judge who bought into the government’s theory was the one” assigned to the recent trials. [Dealbook]

In Camp A you have investors who are horrified by new chief executive officer Laurent Potdevin’s appearance. They want him to go into hiding and not come out until he’s gotten his body fat down to 5%. Currently, the thought of him in a pair of Wunder Unders literally makes them shudder.

…some investors who attended the meeting said they were surprised to see that Potdevin, in his first major public appearance since he took the helm in January, didn’t exactly look the part of a fitness mogul. “He was kind of … dumpy,” one shareholder said, noting that Potdevin wore baggy clothes with an untucked shirt that failed to hide a bulging stomach. “If he’s a competent leader, he’s a competent leader,” another investor said. “But you’ve got to ask whether this guy is really in touch with the mind-set of his core customer in the athletic space.”

Then you have those in Camp B, who believe that it’s actually a good thing that come 2020, or whenever Raj Rajaratnam gets out of jail, the hedge fund manager won’t be calling up Potdevin to model a pair of spandex pants on the conference room of his new hedge fund. Read more »

  • 22 Apr 2014 at 3:48 PM

Bill Ackman Doing Okay For Himself This Year

Every Ackman investment appears to have made money this year, including Beam, the Herbalife short and Platform Specialty Products Corp. Nutritional supplement maker Herbalife, for example, has been hit by reports of several government investigations into the company, which has helped push the stock down about 26 percent so far in 2014. The Pershing Square International fund is up 11.1 percent net of fees in the first quarter alone, according to a report by the HSBC Alternative Investment Group. [NetNet]