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Bill Ackman’s Current Bête Noir Only Slightly More Popular At Home Than At 888 Seventh Avenue

John Hempton is getting love in neither the Pershing Square offices nor Australia.
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Given the verbal firepower leveled against him by Carl Icahn three years ago—“little Jewish crybaby in the schoolyard,” “I wouldn’t invest with you if you were the last man on earth,” “complete bullshit”—the mildness of Bill Ackman’s counter-volleys was kind of amazing, in retrospect: “Not a handshake guy.” “No interest in being his friend.” “Does not keep his word.” Which makes it all the more surprising that, with his current nemesis, it took relatively no time at all for Ackman to adjudge John Hempton “certifiable.”

And while the accuracy of Dr. Ackman's diagnosis is unclear, the Pershing Square manager is apparently not the only one with a few unkind things to say about Hempton. There's also his wife and kids:

Retired at 39, Hempton says he co-founded Bronte in 2009 when his wife threatened to divorce him if he didn’t get out of the house….

“I am eccentric,” Hempton said. “My wife thinks I’m weird. My son thinks I’m weird,” he said. “On the surf beach it doesn’t matter that I’ve made some enemies. It genuinely doesn’t matter. It would be nicer if people thought highly of me than not highly of me but it really doesn’t matter.”

Sorry, John, but Bill’s just not feeling very nice these days.

Hempton is “certifiably crazy,” Ackman wrote last year in an e-mail released by U.S. lawmakers as part of a Valeant hearing, discussing whether Bronte was shorting the drugmaker because he was an investor.

Bill Ackman Says This Eccentric Short Seller Is ‘Certifiably Crazy’ [Bloomberg]


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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: