Nutritional supplements company Herbalife has opened a new front in its battle with hedge fund manager William Ackman, trying to hit the Pershing Square Capital Management founder where it really hurts.
Herbalife last year hired investment bank Moelis & Co. to help "strategically position the company." Part of that strategy, apparently, is to make it impossible for Ackman to continue his attack on Herbalife, which he says is a pyramid scheme, by convincing Pershing Square's investors to redeem.
Moelis has held a meeting with hedge fund consultancy Cliffwater and has sought one with New Jersey's state pension fund, bringing with it a simple message: Ackman's $1 billion short bet against Herbalife, which has already lost half of its value, is irresponsible, and stems not from an objective analysis of the company but from a personal vendetta. Ackman said last month that he would go to "the end of the earth" with his Herbalife short.
Moelis' planned approach to Pershing Square clients prompted Ackman to call firm founder Ken Moelis to complain. The two men have known each other for more than 10 years and have worked together on previous activist campaigns.