What's with activist Ackman, ADT, Air Products—and J.C. Penney?

 - 
08/14/2013

OK, there were enough rumors in early July about activist hedge-fund manager William Ackman planning to take a stake in The ADT Corp. that they caused ADT stock to temporarily skyrocket. But it turned out that Ackman instead had his sights set on industrial gas maker Air Products & Chemicals, of which he now is that company’s biggest shareholder, owning 9.8 percent.

But perhaps that’s good a thing for ADT, given the news yesterday that Ackman’s failed two-year effort to remake traditional department store J.C. Penney ended in his exit from Penney’s board. His decision to step down was voluntary but there is speculation his leaving was “under duress,” according to Reuters.

Ackman’s activism and ADT—who knows where that might have led?

Here’s more from Reuters report yesterday on the J.C. Penney dust up:
 

Hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman's two-year campaign to transform department store J.C. Penney came to an abrupt end on Tuesday with his decision to step down from the board, after a weeklong public spat with fellow board members.

Ackman's decision to leave comes after a failed two-year attempt by his $11.2 billion hedge fund to remake Penney into an upscale retail chain and a week of public fighting with other board members, including interim CEO Officer Myron (Mike) Ullman.

People close to Ackman and the retailer said his decision to leave the board was necessary for Penney to focus on its operations and continue the search for a new chief executive.

Ackman agreed to step down on Monday night, and the move removes a major distraction as Penney prepares for the holiday season. Some retail analysts said the public feuding threatened to unnerve vendors and lenders.

Penney's shares closed down 3.7 percent at $12.68 on the New York Stock Exchange.

... Ackman's Pershing Square Management Capital Management started buying Penney shares nearly three years ago to the day, paying an average of $22 for 39 million shares. The hedge fund now holds nearly 18 percent of Penney's stock.

If Ackman were to sell them at current prices, he'd lose $356 million, or a 40 percent loss.

 

Topic: