Pershing Square Capital Management, the hedge fund run by billionaire activist investor Bill Ackman, has appointed Ryan Israel as Chief Investment Officer. Some observers are speculating that Bill Ackman may be ready to pass the torch onto someone else.
On the appointment, Bill Ackman told his investors, “I am pleased to announce that Ryan Israel, who joined Pershing Square from Goldman Sachs in March of 2009, will now become our Chief Investment Officer. I will continue as CEO and Portfolio Manager with continued control over ultimate decision making, but if the pie truck were to run me over tomorrow, Ryan would be my choice to manage the portfolio.”
Ackman went on to say that Ryan Israel is writing for the future of Pershing Square because he has exemplary character and is an “extremely high-quality human being. He is a once-in-a-generation talent as an investor, not just in equities, but also in macro instruments.”
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Ackman also said that Israel is an excellent leader, teacher, communicator, and partner, and has the “respect of each member of the investment team. As the longest-tenured member of the team, he has had the greatest opportunity to experience our profoundest successes and failures in dramatically different market environments and to learn from them.”
But Bill Ackman also dismissed rumors that Ryan Israel’s appointment is a signal that he may be retiring from the firm.
“My decision to announce Ryan as CIO should in no way suggest to you that I am heading for the hills,” he said. “I love this business and intend to stay active until they carry me out, and I am a heavy lift. I don’t expect that our investment team will function differently beginning the day after this announcement. Ryan has already for some time been unofficially serving in this role.”
Pershing Square is also considering going public. In a letter to investors the firm wrote, “As PSH grows in market capitalization and its ownership stakes in its portfolio companies increases, one can envision a world in which over time PSH becomes a controlling owner of one of more businesses that comprise the substantial majority of our assets and income.”
“We expect to continually evaluate PSH and its operations,” they added, “and consider whether in the future it may be able to operate not as an investment company in the U.S., but rather as an operating company that could be listed in the U.S.”