#Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman files for blank-check IPO

#Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman files for blank-check IPO

June 11, 2020 | 1:12pm

After making billions on the pandemic in March, Bill Ackman is on the lookout for a new investment.

The founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management has reportedly filed for what’s known on Wall Street as “a blank-check IPO” — or a public offering meant to raise money for an acquisition or merger.

In a confidential regulatory filing, first reported by Reuters, Ackman’s Pershing Square said it’s looking to raise $1 billion to invest within two years or return the money to investors.

It’s unclear what investments Ackman has in mind, but a new $1 billion fund would be a significant addition to Ackman’s already expanded war chest.

The 54-year-old billionaire pulled down a tidy $2.6 billion profit in late March betting against the stock market days before fears of the growing coronavirus pandemic sent the economy into a free fall.

Ackman took heat for profiting off the coronavirus panic, selling days after going on TV to urge President Trump to shut down the country and warning that “Hell is coming.”

The billionaire later expressed confidence in stocks, but has continued selling some of his oldies but goodies, including the holding company run by his investing idol Warren Buffett.

On May 28, Ackman revealed that he’s sold his $1 billion stake in Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, suggesting that he now believes he can more effectively invest capital than his professed mentor who was criticized for not buying at the market bottom in March.

In early February, Ackman dumped his stake in Starbucks as the coffee chain faced coronavirus headwinds in China. He made more than $500 million on that move, according to sources close to Pershing Square.

The latest moves follow an impressive 58 percent return for investors for 2019 following several years of sagging returns.

On Tuesday, the $10 billion Pershing Square announced it is up just over 33 percent so far in 2020.

Blank-check IPOs are having something of a moment, with recent high fliers like DraftKings and Tesla competitor Nikola Corp using them to go public through mergers. With activity that frothy, hedge fund insiders think Ackman might be able raise more than $1 billion.

“He could pull off the biggest one yet, to be honest,” said one hedge fund manager. “Bill’s on a bit of a run here and, looking at his cash situation, he might be going big game hunting.”

Ackman, who considers himself an activist investor, has a long history of rattling corporate cages, although some forays have been more successful than others. His well-publicized $1 billion crusade against vitamin company Herbalife ended in near-disaster and put Ackman on the ropes between 2015 and 2018.

Pershing Square declined to comment.

“Color me intrigued,” another hedge fund manager mused. “It definitely feels like he’s got a big target in mind.”


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