Yesterday afternoon, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman made a bold statement. A presentation delivered live in midtown Tuesday morning was to be “the most important” one of his career and at the end of it, we would “learn why Herbalife is going to collapse.” On CNBC, he acknowledged that he was “raising expectations,” but assured the public it would not be disappointed. How’d he do? That all depends on what you were hoping for. If it was a PowerPoint that convinced the market that Herbalife, Ackman’s sworn enemy, was going down for the dirt nap, then technically, the hedge fund manager probably disappointed you a little.
Herbalife Ltd.’s shares jumped as much as 14 percent after hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman struggled to convince investors that the seller of weight-loss shakes is guilty of fraud.
On the other hand, if you were hoping for a presentation filled with passion, courage, feeling, and above all, patriotism, your expectations were met and then some. Read more »
Michael Steinberg was furious after receiving an email in October 2010 from a research consultant he had hired, according to the lawyer for the SAC Capital Advisors LP portfolio manager. In the email, the consultant told his clients that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had contacted him about insider trading. Mr. Steinberg called the consultant and made him cry, according to the lawyer, Barry Berke. Mr. Steinberg was irate about the possibility that the consultant, John Kinnucan, had been feeding him illegal inside tips, Mr. Berke said. “[Mr. Steinberg said] ‘is this inside information you’re giving me?'” Mr. Berke told U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan on Monday. “And [Mr. Kinnucan] is like ‘no, no, I swear, Mike, it’s not.'”…The content of Mr. Steinberg’s conversation with Mr. Kinnucan came out in another conversation that was recorded at the behest of the FBI. In that one, former SAC analyst Jon Horvath told ex-Level Global Investors LP analyst Spyridon “Sam” Adondakis that his boss, Mr. Steinberg, had ripped into Mr. Kinnucan after receiving the email. Unknown to Mr Horvath at the time, Mr. Adondakis was cooperating with the FBI, according to prosecutors. [WSJ]
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 »
As we have discussed at length, when it comes to the art of regulating one’s emotions while investing, there are two models to choose from: The Dead Inside paradigm, wherein you remain calm, cool, and collected, maintaining the same expression on your face whether you’ve lost $1 billion on one trade or made three times that much on another; and The Bill Ackman. The mega-successful Pershing Square founder imbues emotion in everything he does, particularly when it comes to his job. As a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, in the past Ackman has been known to: cry at shareholder meetings; get extremely heated to the point of his face becoming “flushed,” his eyes “misty” when meeting with SEC investigators; pen “long, emotional, late-night missives” to top SEC brass; and erupt on directors of companies with such passion that his “furious outburst” could be “heard in an outside hallway.”
As there are few on Wall Street who exhibit such raw emotion while conducting business, and there is a propensity by some to employ tactics that will put them in the power position when facing foes, perhaps it should not come as too much of a shock that recently, a reporter asked Ackman whether or not the waterworks or displays of indignation are pre-planned, in front of a mirror. For those who’ve long known Ackman has more integrity in one salty tear than most have in their entire body, his answer will not come as a shock, but to set the record straight, for anyone holding out hope of seeing him do a little regional theater at some point in the future: Read more »
Gang, something’s come up in across the pond that needs our immediate attention. I’ll get right to it: at issue is whether or not “high powered financial adviser” Amanda Daughters should be allowed to have her job back at Aqua Financial Solutions, the firm she founded and was fired from by the chairman a couple years back. She’s currently appealing the decision but ahead of hearing what an employment tribunal has to say, why not give Daughters a trial by jury of her peers? Here’s the rub: Read more »
It was a particularly windy day in Westport, CT and I delicately placed the mounted bird in my passenger seat, gingerly wrapping the seat-belt around its midsection without mussing the feathers. Carrying the bird in and out of the post office and several shipping stores became more hilarious each time. People stared. I smiled back. Finally though, when I’d reached the last place in the area that I could try before getting back to the office on time, I wasn’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer. The clerk gave me a look of disbelief when I placed the bird on the counter and I said, “I need to ship this to Japan.” He just laughed at me. I then looked at him sternly and said, “This is no laughing matter. This bird needs to make it to Japan in flawless condition or I will lose my job.” The guy looked back at the bird and then back at me. By then I had used my acting skills and summoned some tears. Finally he agreed to try and crate the bird for shipment. I still don’t know to this day if it made it past customs, but I was satisfied that I had not given up on my task. [Dealbook, related]
April 7, 2009: The then Sir Allen Stanford chokes back tears over being deprived of being named Forbes’ 405th richest person in the world as a result of the Ponzi charges (which he described as “baloney” and told a reporter using the dirty word, “If you say Ponzi to my face again, I will punch you in the mouth”). Read more »