Ackman Calls It Quits on Herbalife as Pershing Square Restructures
As his hedge fund Pershing Square heads into its fourth straight year in the red, investing titan Bill Ackman is calling it quits on one of the most high-profile activist battles on Wall Street: Herbalife.
Ackman first revealed a $1 billion short position against nutritional supplement firm Herbalife five years prior, dubbing the organization a pyramid scheme. (For more, read “The Siege of Herbalife” by Roger Parloff in the Sept. 15, 2015 issue of Fortune magazine.) That put him on the opposite side of the table from activist investor Carl Icahn, who turned into Herbalife’s largest shareholder even as Ackman mounted a campaign against the company.
But rather than falling, shares of Herbalife have rallied 95% since Ackman first revealed plans to bet against the company. Then in November of 2017, Ackman signaled that he was less confident in his call regarding Herbalife. The billionaire converted the short position, which in theory could lead to infinite losses for Ackman, to put options.
Then on Wednesday, CNBC reported that Ackman had unwound his bet against Herbalife.
That comes after Pershing Squares posted its third straight year of negative returns in 2017 due to a string of bets that Ackman has exited, or have either yet to pay off. Ackman for instance exited its stake in troubled pharmaceutical company Valeant in early 2017, costing his shareholders billions. His largest holding Mondelez languished last year, and Ackman’s bet on Chipotle Mexican Grill meanwhile has yet to pay off.
Since Ackman revealed a stake in the embattled quick-service restaurant, Chipotle shares have shed 25% following the return of its food safety crisis.
At the same time, Pershing Square has reportedly cut almost 20% of staff in a bid to turn the hedge fund back around to its glory days, Reuters reports.
(Fortune has reached out to Pershing Square for comment.)