Activist Investors

And that’s why, despite Carl Icahn’s comments about him in the past, Bill Ackman is ready to take their newfound friendship to the next level (and why Icahn, who Ackman once described as a liar who takes advantage of little people probably feels the same way). Read more »

Did Third Point chief Dan Loeb recently tell friends he had a plan to “undermine the credibility” of Sotheby’s Chairman and CEO William Ruprecht? Yes. Did Ruprecht refer to Loeb as “scum”? Indeed. Are the two men going to let either of these things make Sotheby’s board meetings, at which they’ll be working together, awkward in the slightest? Of course not. Why would you think that? Read more »

Back in October, hedge fund manager Dan Loeb sent a letter William Ruprecht, to the CEO of Sotheby’s, in which he made the following points:

  • Sotheby’s is completely ignorant about contemporary art
  • Ruprecht is overpaid
  • Sotheby’s is a joke compared to Christie’s
  • In spite of all this, Sotheby’s future can be salvaged, but it’ll take firing Ruprecht and adding Loeb and a few directors of Loeb’s choice to the board

Shockingly, Sotheby’s did not appreciate the constructive criticism, and adopted a poison pill to ward off Loeb and Co. Last week, Loeb reiterated his position in an open letter to Sotheby’s shareholders, in which he underscored that, in his professional opinion, the auction house knows nothing about selling art. (He also reminded them to vote Loeb ’14 at the company’s annual meeting in May.)

Team Sotheby’s, apparently sick of Loeb’s shit, did what any corporate entity does when it’s decided its done play Mr. Nice Guy: assembled its top men and women in a conference room and declared that no one could leave until they’d come up with a 53-slide PowerPoint rebuttal.

Said rebuttal can be viewed in its entirety here, but it mostly boils down to: Read more »

Back in October, hedge fund manager Dan Loeb sat down at his desk to pen a letter to auction house Sotheby’s, wherein he informed management that, among other things, they don’t know dick about contemporary art. The Third Point founder went on to list the many ways Sotheby’s had failed shareholders, including “egregious examples of waste,” like a lunch at Blue Hill that cost “multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars,” lost ground to rival Christie’s, its sliding operation margin, and, finally, the continued employment of CEO William Ruprecht, to whom the letter was addressed. Naturally, Loeb offered his services re: fixing the place, writing that he would be happy to join the board and help recruit a few other directors who would come with the requisite “experience increasing shareholder value” and would generally know what they hell they were doing, unlike some people (no names: Bill Ruprecht). Read more »

“You’re the CEO of a company who got the job by lying about having been captain of your high school debate team. Dan Loeb has called three times. What do you do?”

“Word on the Street is that Bill Ackman has tried your protein shakes and he thinks they taste like shit. What’s your next move?”

“Carl Icahn has been standing in your lobby for the last 20 minutes shouting about your board reminding him of the kids he used beat up in Queens and telling the receptionist that if she’s listening to let him talk. What happens next?” Read more »

  • 24 Oct 2013 at 3:18 PM

Dan Loeb Only One Of Two Thorns In Sotheby’s Side

Sotheby’s doesn’t just have an activist problem. It has a two-activists problem. The auction house faces one hedge fund manager— Daniel Loeb of Third Point LLC—loudly banging down the doors over its performance. Meanwhile, another hedge fund is working behind the doors to get the company to sell its physical home. That second hedge fund, Marcato Capital Management LLC, spelled out its arguments for the first time in a presentation to investors Wednesday evening. According to the presentation, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Marcato wants Sotheby’s to sell its New York and London properties and unlock the capital it uses in its smaller art financing and art dealing operations. The hedge fund, Sotheby’s third-largest shareholder, believes those moves could free up $1.3 billion in cash, enough to buy back nearly a third of the company’s stock…Richard “Mick” McGuire, the founder and managing member of Marcato, unveiled his thesis for boosting Sotheby’s stock price at the Excellence in Investing conference in San Francisco. [WSJ]

“Look, I’m in this to make money. That’s what I do. The fact that it might hurt Ackman, I’m not going to run and cry and do penance. You might like to say that it’s the strawberry on top for me, that’s up to you.” [Barron’s, related, earlier]

Yesterday we discussed Mrs. Buttkiss, the story of a woman with a “huge” ass, a dirty little secret, and what happens one day when she lets it out in the fruit aisle of a grocery store. Mrs. Buttkiss and The Big Surprise isn’t just any old children’s book about asses but one conceived of by Crescendo Partners founder Eric Rosenfeld, whose tale of asses and the magic they hold had been brewing for over ten years. (For those of you not up to speed on the storyline, see my summary in comments 52, 55, and 57 here). It’s also one of the few books you can currently purchase that comes with a free whoppie cushion. We had a little chat with the auteur, who claims to have no calls on FDP, about his process.

Is this an allegory for the financial crisis? Bubbles, etc?
A lot of people seem to think that but I came up with the story ten years ago, way before the financial crisis.

Ten years ago the seeds were already being sown. A bunch of Alan Greenspan’s friends knew what was happening. It definitely could’ve been about the crisis.
That wasn’t the original intent but it’s fine with me if people want to think about it that way.

Is it about LTCM?
That’s a different Eric Rosenfeld who worked there.

It could still be about John Meriwether. His gastroenterologist loves to talk. Anyway…you said you came up with this story when you were putting your kids to bed. What happened that night that this was the story you came up with?
I was just trying to make up a story I thought they’d like.

Kids like this sort of thing?
Oh yeah. Kids ages 2-12 think it’s hilarious. What did you think of it? Read more »