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Pershing Square Capital Management

Activist Ackman eyeing ADT?

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Is the activist hedge fund chief William Ackman planning to buy a significant stake in ADT? There’s been some speculations that that’s the case, and as a result ADT’s stock price was way up yesterday. It rose 5.2 percent, its largest gain in months.

Ackman runs $12 billion Pershing Square Capital Management. According to a Bloomberg report, Ackman is raising money over the next 10 days to buy a stake in an unnamed “large-capitalization, investment-grade U.S. corporation that principally operates in one business.”

That information is from a letter that Bloomberg said Ackman sent to investors. He also said the stock trades at a lower multiple than its closest competitor and described the business as “simple, predictable, and free-cash-flow-generative, and enjoys high barriers to entry, high customer switching costs and substantial pricing power.”

The new fund will be capped at $1 billion and will invest alongside the New York-based firm’s main hedge funds, Bloomberg reported. Pershing will invest about 15 percent its $12 billion worth of capital in the same stock, “meaning the total investment could approach $3 billion. The firm, which already has a position in the stock, plans to buy more than 5 percent of the company and will talk to the board and management to bring about change.”

I’d like to hear some speculation about what kind of change Ackman might have in mind. I called Sarah Cohn at ADT, who said that the company does not “comment on market rumors or speculation.”

And this is all speculation, of course. Shares of FedEx were way up yesterday too, as some investors were betting that Ackman is looking at FedEx and not ADT.

Will keep you posted.