Bill Ackman Ditches Stakes in United Technologies, ADP

August 7, 2019 | Hedge Funds, News
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Activist manager Bill Ackman walks away from two positions.

Pershing Square Capital Management chief Bill Ackman is out of United Technologies (NYSE: UTX).

The outspoken activist manager chose to drop his stake in the defense company instead of fighting the firm’s planned takeover of rival Raytheon Corp. (NYSE; RTN).

The deal – expected to exceed $100 billion – is the latest in a string of high-profile mergers in the defense sector. Recently, senior military members came out in opposition to the deal over national security concerns.

But Ackman isn’t the only hedge fund titan opposed to the marriage between the two defense contractors. Third Point chief Daniel Loeb called the deal irresponsible and likened CEO Greg Hayes’ plan to “empire building.”

Pershing Square reportedly used the sale of its position and capital from a financing round to build a stake in an undisclosed firm.

Bill Ackman cuts stake in ADP

Ackman also ditched his stake in Automated Data Processing (ADP), according to multiple reports.

Pershing Square announced an 8.3% stake in ADP back in 2017. Ackman planned a proxy battle to replace three board members. Though ADP shareholders rejected his proxy battle, investors earned a return north of 50% since Ackman announced the stake. In addition, Pershing Square gained roughly $1.2 billion on its stake, according to an Ackman-penned shareholder letter seen Reuters.

“Our activism bore significant fruit,” he said. “As a direct result of our activism, ADP made commitments to accelerate revenue growth, bolster its competitive position in the enterprise market, and improve efficiency and margins.”

Pershing entered its position at an average of $114.76 per share. According to the same letter, Ackman exited the position at $167 per share on July 31.

In addition, Ackman said that despite his exit, he anticipates that ADP will see double-digit growth.

ADP was Ackman’s last high-profile board dispute. Ackman faced a rush of investor redemptions after losing positions in firms like Herbalife(NYSE: HLF) and Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: VRX).

Ackman reported a 45.3% gain during the first half of 2019.

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