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chipotle-ackman
Chipotle is Bill Ackman's latest target.  Photos by Keith Srakocic—AP & Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bill Ackman Might Have a Hand in Running Chipotle Soon

Nov 18, 2016

Hedge funder Bill Ackman may have something to do with the way your next Chipotle burrito is made.

According to people familiar with the matter, Ackman and Chipotle Mexican Grill (cmg) are nearing a settlement that could give the hedge fund manager a seat on the troubled restaurant chain's board of directors, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The settlement would help the two parties bypass a potentially messy and public boardroom battle, since Ackman, who is the founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, disclosed a 9.9% stake in the beaten down chain in early September.

At the time, Pershing said Chipotle's stock was "undervalued and is an attractive investment." That came after shares at the restaurant had fallen 46% since August 2015, when the burrito chain started to weather E. Coli, Norovirus, and Salmonella outbreaks in various locations. The food safety crisis has continued to press on Chipotle's earnings, with recent sales falling for the fourth straight quarter—revenue tumbled 15% to $1 billion—despite multiple free food campaigns.

Ackman isn't the only one seeking a boardroom shakeup at Chipotle. Some investors and analysts say the poorly handled food safety crisis has also exposed the shortcomings within Chipotle's nine-member board—many of whom have held their positions for over 10 years, said CtW Investment Group, which works with union-backed pension funds that hold about 55,000 Chipotle shares. The board also only has one independent director who is a current Fortune 500 executive.

For Ackman, the settlement with Chipotle would be a bright spot in a rough year. Pershing Square extended its annual losses in October to 19%, as its investments in another beleaguered company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, continued to fall.

Pershing Square declined to comment.

Shares of Chipotle rose 1.26% in pre-market trading Friday.

Fortune has reached out to Chipotle, and will update this story when the restaurant responds.

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