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Cash-Strapped Ackman Might Back Off from Activism …. for Now

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In the annals of activist investing, 2014 was the year of Bill Ackman, but lacking enough dry powder, he might not be firing as much in 2015, according to the New York Post. Ackman’s many battles earned him nearly daily headlines and media stories detailing his crusade against Herbalife, whose business model he considers illegal, and conveniently, his short position is huge. His other major quest was to force the takeover of Botox-maker Allergan, which did indeed happen, and was partly responsible for the 40% return for his hedge fund in 2014.

Since Ackman’s Pershing Square outperformed many other funds, a faint terror was spreading across corporate America lest Blue Beard in the form activist investor Bill Ackman jump on the ship, force the CEO and most of the crew to walk the plank or start a mutiny among the board of directors. Big businesses can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that pirate Ackman is low on cash this year, and might have enough to simply coast along or go fishing. Only $500 million, or just 3% of Pershing’s assets, were in cash as of December 31st. It is unlikely Ackman will spend a lot of money for activist projects, since he doesn’t have the cash, unless he sells something, which is not a move he likes to make.

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So breathe easy corporations. 2015 may be the year you won’t have Ackman on your back.

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