Bill Ackman takes his tennis seriously. Seriously enough to have tried to kill John McEnroe in a charity doubles tennis match he had no chance of winning.
Early in the match, McEnroe hit a lob to Ackman, who slammed it back, directly at McEnroe’s body. The gentlemanly thing to do would have been to warn McEnroe that the ball was coming at him, and then to subsequently apologize. But Ackman instead smashed the shot and turned around and walked to the baseline, without saying a word.
McEnroe seemed pissed. Here he was humoring some hedge-fund guy for charity, and the dude was taking it so seriously and being rude about it to boot. In his younger days, McEnroe might have drilled the next shot directly between Ackman’s eyes, but he instead decided to stick to a more gentlemanly game. Needless to say, McEnroe and Effron won handily.
As has been amply well attested, lots and lots (and lots and lots and lots more) of peopledon’t like Bill Ackman. And now that he’s in some serious extremis, well, some people are indulging in a little (possibly premature) schadenfreude at his impending demise.
“I think he hits a brick wall at about 197 miles an hour,” says Marc Cohodes, a Wall Street short seller. “I think he’s done. I think he’s a dead man walking and he’s completely un-investable.” Adds another hedge-fund manager who knows Ackman, “I think he’s proven himself incapable of managing risks. I think that’s kind of obvious at this point.” Notes another hedge-fund manager: “I don’t think that it’s particularly fair, but there is some glee….”
In fact, some hedge-fund managers and investors are now wondering whether Pershing Square has ever made any money for its investors, once Ackman’s fees are deducted. I am told that David Einhorn, the founder of Greenlight Capital and another Ackman nemesis, has done an extensive analysis that shows that Pershing Square investors have taken it on the chin. (Einhorn declined to comment.) Another prominent hedge-fund investor agrees. “I had my guys look at [Ackman’s numbers],” he says, “and if you go through all of it . . . I think he’s returned zero.”
Is Bill Ackman Toast? [Vanity Fair]