CNBC reports that billionaire (?) investor Bill Ackman's Pershing Square, which as of February 20 was nursing a -5.6% P&L loss for the year, after losing -4% in 2017, -13.5% in 2016 and -20.5% in 2015...
... and is increasingly desperate for a successful hail mary investment amid rising redemptions and outflows, has been building an activist stake in multinational conglomerate UTX. The size of Pershing’s position, as well as what sort of changes Ackman may seek at the industrial conglomerate, were unclear at this time.
Speaking to CNBC's Scott Wapner, Ackman said he thought it was a "great" company; news of the stake sent UTX shares over 3% higher.
Meanwhile, the company appears to have preempted the activist pressure and a conference last week, United Technologies' chief executive said the defense contractor is thinking of splitting up key parts of its business. The comments spurred a rally in the company's shares the following day.
"Is [United Technologies] a more valuable property together or is UTC better off in three separate businesses?" CEO Greg Hayes said at the Barclays Industrial Select Conference in Miami on Feb. 21. "That's the question for the board. That's the question we continue to study."
"There are, as you can imagine, significant dis-synergies with splitting up the portfolio, as well as one-time costs," Hayes added.
United Technologies would be the latest industrial conglomerate to explore such a move, after General Electric Co. said it may break out its primary businesses into publicly traded companies.
Ironically, in January, Reuters reported Bill Ackman is "looking to lower his public profile" after several years of disappointing returns.
"Ackman also plans to go silent, at least for awhile, the people said, a major change in style for one of Wall Street's most voluble investors."
Reuters also reported that Ackman planned to curtail all of his own marketing and public relations meetings associated with running a big hedge fund, which was understandable as the only PR people left at Pershing Square are those who have to deal with redemption requests. Ackman also laid off 18% of Pershing Square, including his personal driver.
"Ackman also laid off his driver, saying he can walk or take the subway to his Midtown Manhattan office."
In separate news, CNBC also reported that Ackman is now "all gone" from Herbalife, and has "unwound" his put position in the company which we said would face a dramatic short squeeze back in early 2013, when his massive short bet - which became the basis for a long-running feud with Carl Icahn - was first announced.
Ackman famously stated that Herbalife is "going to zero." Ealrier today, HLF stock hit an all time high.