A month ago, we promised that the fight between Bill Ackman and Automatic Data Processing over three of the latter’s board seats would get dumber, and it has not disappointed. Mind you, this is no small feat: The proxy fight’s early days saw Leon Cooperman calling Ackman dumb, followed by Ackman basically pulling names out of a hat to print on his proxy card, followed by ADP’s CEO going on television to call Ackman dumb, followed by said CEO doing something pretty dumb himself, followed by the King of Bad Publicity threatening to bring bad publicity upon ADP if it didn’t do what he wanted, with some possibly made-up numbers bandied about by both sides in between. And yet, dumber it became: Ackman claiming that voting one’s ADP proxies was a moral imperative on par with electing an American president. Ackman seeking to reassure his adversaries that all he wants to do is act like he owns the place. And so on.
Why, just yesterday, Ackman sent a letter to proxy advisory Institutional Shareholder Services calling ADP a liar. To which ADP has responded with a letter of its own to the SEC, which can be paraphrased, “I know you are but what am I?”
ADP said Tuesday it will file a complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over an 18-page letter billionaire activist investor Ackman sent to Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. In Monday’s letter, Ackman claimed ADP had provided “non-public, inaccurate and misleading statements” of its own to the proxy advisory firm.
“Mr. Ackman’s reckless and unfounded assertions continue to undermine his credibility and are inconsistent with the temperament of a reputable board member,” ADP said in a statement….
“Mr. Ackman is distorting the facts, misleading shareholders and seeking to discredit ADP to win votes in the final days of this proxy contest,” it said.
ADP to Submit SEC Complaint Against Ackman [Bloomberg]