Ackman Calls For SEC Research Database

May 5 2010 | 11:50am ET

Pershing Square Capital Management chief William Ackman wants to help the Securities and Exchange Commission by telling it why, exactly, he’s shorting a given stock. And he wants the SEC to facilitate that with what amounts to a research database run by the regulator.

Ackman suggested the SEC research aggregator as a tool the agency could use to find potential corporate wrongdoing. The hedge fund honcho, who has been on the receiving end of some unwanted SEC attention due to its own shorting, says the system—which would be public, modeled on the SEC’s Edgar system for corporate filings—would have helped blunt the impact of the recent financial crisis.

“A lot of people say that short-selling is a bad thing,” Ackman told the Bloomberg Markets Global Hedge Fund & Investor Summit yesterday. “The frustration is that had people paid more attention to some of the alerts, we could have had much less of a wreckage in the credit crisis.”

Ackman said he would also allow investors to post research on the database—with the caveats of full disclosure and no libel, those posts would be protected from liability.

“If we had a mechanism like that, where there’s a much freer exchange of ideas, it would lead to more accurate security prices,” he said. “It would be a great forum for the SEC to comb through to find companies they should focus their investigations on.”

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