Investor Bill Ackman said Tuesday that he will no longer take part in vocal activist short selling campaigns, a practice he engaged in that led to one of the most colorful battles in Wall Street history.
“Despite our limited participation in this investment strategy, it has generated enormous media attention for Pershing Square. In addition to massive amounts of media hits, our two short activist investments managed to inspire a book and a movie,” Ackman said in his annual letter. “Fortunately for all of us, and as importantly for our reputation as a supportive constructive owner, we have permanently retired from this line of work.”
The decision came years after his five-year battle against Herbalife ended with massive losses in 2018. The founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management had placed a massive bet against the nutritional supplement maker he accused of running a pyramid scheme.
“We exited because we believed that the capital could better be deployed in other opportunities, particularly when one considered the opportunity cost of our time,” Ackman said in the letter. “The aphorism that you “don’t need to make it back the way you lost it” has always resonated with us.”
At the height of his fight against Herbalife, Ackman famously engaged in an on-air verbal brawl with Carl Icahn on CBNC.
Ackman also shorted mortgage loan companies FannieMae and FreddieMac in 2007 before the great financial crisis, which turned out to be successful bets.