Icahn Bets On Herbalife, Against Ackman

Jan 17 2013 | 6:58am ET

Carl Icahn may have found a way to take his long-running feud with Pershing Square Capital Management’s William Ackman to the next level.

Icahn has invested in Herbalife, the nutritional supplement company that Ackman has branded a “pyramid scheme.” Ackman has said that regulators were likely to shutter Herbalife, rendering its shares worthless.

Icahn doesn’t seem to agree. He bought up some Herbalife shares after Ackman’s lenghty presentation on the company last month. It is unclear how large a stake Icahn owns—a source told The Wall Street Journal that it’s “small.”

By contrast, Ackman has shorted something on the order of $1 billion worth of Herbalife shares.

Word of Icahn’s bet against Ackman follows Third Point chief Daniel Loeb’s defense of the company and disclosure of a substantial long position of his own. Chapman Capital and East Side Capital are also said to be long Herbalife.

But none of managers of those hedge funds have the history with Ackman that Icahn has. The two have loathed one another for more than eight years, after a bitter court fight over just $4.5 million. Ackman has called Icahn “a shakedown artist” and said “his word is worthless.” Icahn retorts that Ackman “just likes pounding himself on the chest.”

The dispute is so ugly—and so well-known—that general manager of Marea, the pricey Central Park South restaurant, knows not to seat Ackman, a frequent diner, next to Icahn.

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