Pershing Square

I’ve seen my share of odd moments during annual meetings, but until Thursday I’d never seen a grown man cry during one. O.K., maybe “cry” is a bit of an overstatement for what happened. Still, it was pretty startling when, in the middle of his speech to Target Corporation shareholders, William A. Ackman, the hedge fund manager who had waged an expensive, high-profile proxy fight against the company, suddenly choked up and stopped speaking. He wiped away a tear.Joe Nocera/NYT, May 29, 2009

The group met in a small conference room. Instead of the usual three SEC attorneys, only two were at that meeting. Gerald Russello, the attorney who had been leading the investigation, had taken a job in the general counsel’s office at Bear Stearns. The presentation was going according to plan when [Pershing Square's general counsel] noticed that Ackman was getting agitated. “I’ve shown you this fraud. I’ve shown you that fraud,” Ackman said. “What do I have to do? What do I have to prove to you before you take some action?” His face was flushed, his eyes misty.Christine Richard, Confidence Game, 2010

Without reading any further, [Pershing Square's general counsel] told his wife, “I may have to quit my job tomorrow.” His boss’s habit of writing long, emotional, late-night missives without having him vet them was one of the aggravations of his job. But this was the worst yet.Christine Richard, Confidence Game, 2010

Staring down the activist, the directors proposed installing Ingram as chairman, and chief financial officer Kathryn McQuade as interim CEO. Ackman’s furious outburst could be heard in an outside hallway, where a clutch of advisers was standing by…Half a year later, Ackman is asked to explain his Calgary outburst. “Ballistic is too strong a word,” he says. He searches long and hard for diplomatic words to explain his passionate reaction in the CP boardroom. “There were a lot of bruised feelings,” he says. “It took a while before we were able to work it out. The first few hours were not easy.” When it is suggested that his anger may be a deliberate act to unnerve his adversaries, he is incensed. “I don’t act, ever,” he says. “I’m exactly who I appear to be. I am unfiltered, for better or worse.”Globe and Mail, November 29, 2012

As has been discussed at length in the past, and as you can see from the above, Pershing Square founder Bill Ackman is an investor who wears his heart on his sleeve. A hedge fund manager who imbues emotion in everything he does. Sometimes those emotions come in the form of anger. Sometimes they come out in the form letters penned at 2AM to various SEC officials because what he had to say could not wait another few hours. More often than not, they come out as salty tears that were impossible to hold back.

Ackman’s emotional range has been well-documented and when a reporter recently questioned whether or not said emotions were real or simply a tactic to weird out his opponents, he informed her that what you see is what you get. Bill Ackman fakes nothing and furthermore, doesn’t deem it necessary to hold back when gripped by feelings, whatever they may be: unlike some money managers, whose facial expressions betray fewer hints of what they’re thinking or feeling than a corpse, Bill Ackman is man enough to let it all hang out, a quality that, for the record, we think he should highlight rather than distance himself from.

So it was a bit odd to see him tell Andrew Ross Sorkin this: Read more »

  • 04 Oct 2013 at 1:08 PM

Pershing Square Investors Standing By Their Man

William Ackman’s bad year is taking a big toll. The activist hedge-fund manager has seen his firm’s assets under management decline by $1.2 billion from a high point earlier this year, largely due to investment declines, according to people familiar with its operations…At the end of September, Pershing Square’s total assets under management stood at $11.2 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter. That is a $1.2 billion decline from the $12.4 billion that Pershing Square reported it had under management as of March 1 in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission…People with knowledge of the firm said the decline resulted almost completely from weak investment performance, and net redemptions by investors had amounted to less than $150 million so far in 2013. [WSJ]

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]

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 »


[Via ZH, Related: Dan Loeb’s High Road Is Paved With High Impact Enemas Administered By A 77 Year-Old Man]

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"]

Earlier today, a person, if a person were so inclined, could hop on his or her Bloomberg terminal, start a message to hedge fund manager Dan Loeb, and be greeted with a header that proclaimed “New HLF Product: The Herbalife Enema, Administered by Uncle Carl.” This line was an obvious reference to the figurative enema Pershing Square chief Bill Ackman has undergone at hands of the shake and supplement company and fellow money manger, Carl Icahn. After a flurry of articles pointing out Loeb’s anus-themed diss, the Third Point manager’s header was changed to “Always take the high road.” While one might quick to assume this meant Loeb had had a change of heart re: his previous statement, and had felt it’d been a less than diplomatic thing to say, doing so would make an ass of you and me. Read more »