The activist investor William A. Ackman has had a bruising year, but with one investment, Air Products and Chemicals, he now has something to show for his effort. Air Products, a producer of industrial gases, announced on Thursday that it would add three new directors to its board and begin a search for a new chief executive. The changes were supported by Mr. Ackman, whose firm, Pershing Square Capital Management, acquired a 9.8 percent stake in the company this year. [Dealbook]
Bill Ackman Can No Longer Walk Down The Street Without Being Approached By CEOs Who Saw Him Coming, Handed A Pre-Written Resignation Letter, And Told “I Thought I’d Just Make This Easier On The Both Of Us”By Bess Levin
And it has ended with the handsome prince, practically perfect in every way, being forced to sell his shares in the company. He tried as hard as he could to change them for the better, but in the end, you can’t help people who won’t help themselves. Read more »
There comes a time in every hedge fund manager’s life when he must admit that he made a mistake. Sometimes that mistake was borrowing money from an investor fund to pay personal taxes. Sometimes that mistake was knocking off that hooker. Sometimes that mistake was thinking investors would be happy to hear that their one dollar at the beginning of the year was now just 17 cents. The point is, they erred in judgment, and while it’s unusual for men of their stature to admit such a thing, on the record or otherwise, they decided to step up and do just that.
For Bill Ackman, yesterday was sort of that day. Read more »
Just two-plus weeks after J.C. Penney’s board—of which the Pershing Square Capital Management chief is a member—agreed to take their time to find a replacement for the man he hand-picked for the job, Bill Ackman is getting impatient. It might occur to a lesser man who had picked a candidate he generously described as “very close to a disaster”—most people familiar with Ron Johnson’s J.C. Penney would probably have omitted the first three words—that discretion is be the better part of valor in this case, but Bill is unafraid. He’s made more powerful enemies than the man he obviously sees as the lame duck chairman of a failing retailer that he owns 18% of and whose replacement he has already found. Read more »
Soros Fund Management LLC is withdrawing its money with William Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management due to performance, according to a person close to the matter. Pershing is in the process of returning the money to Soros, less than $250 million, by early 2014, the person said. [Reuters, earlier: "Bill Ackman has filed a complaint with regulators against George Soros’ family fund and unidentified co-conspirators alleging Soros’ firm broke insider-trading rules by tipping hedge funds"]
There are puzzling reports that Bill Ackman has been complaining to the SEC about George Soros’s investment in Herbalife, claiming that “Soros’ firm broke insider-trading rules by tipping hedge funds about its purchases” at “idea meetings.” You might remember Bill Ackman as the man who called a big press conference to tell everyone that he was short Herbalife and they should join him. There was PowerPoint! It was like eight hours long. I suppose some people traded on it though I also suppose they regret it.
So what’s his problem? I do not understand this at all. The allegation of insider trading is particularly weird; as far as I know no one has any obligation to keep their share ownership – or plans to buy more shares – secret. A cynic might say that the business of fundamental equity fund management consists mostly of telling people about your positions, which is why CNBC exists. It’s also why Ackman’s Herbalife drama exists; one irony is that if he had not called that press conference he probably would never have baited Carl Icahn into becoming Herbalife’s biggest proponent. Should have kept it to an idea meeting! Read more »