Bill Ackman Is Chilling After Netflix

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Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management

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Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

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Shareholder activism has come roaring back in 2022 but it’s missing one of its most prominent voices.

There were 77 activist campaigns launched in the first quarter—a six-year high that far exceeds the 55 campaigns initiated in the year-ago quarter, according to data provided by Lazard. This year’s high-profile targets include Bed Bath & Beyond (ticker: BBBY) as well as billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s ESG-focused campaigns at McDonald’s (MCD) and Kroger (KR).

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Notably absent from the rush of campaigns is one-time Icahn foe Bill Ackman, whose Pershing Square Capital Management historically made headlines for successful investments in Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP), as well as a soured bet on Valeant Pharmaceuticals, now Bausch Health (BHC), and Herbalife (HLF). Earlier this year, he took a stake in streaming giant Netflix (NFLX).

In his annual letter last week, Ackman said the firm was “permanently retired” from activist short-selling campaigns and would be taking a “quieter” approach to long investments. The change has been coming: Ackman hasn’t engaged in a proxy fight for five years and Pershing has seen double-digit returns over the last three years. Ackman also acknowledged other benefits from a less contentious approach.

“It makes our job easier and more fun, and our quality of life better,” he wrote. “So, if it is helpful to call this quieter approach Pershing Square 3.0, let it hereby be so anointed.”

Of course, other activists are still finding plenty of ways to have fun.

Write to Carleton English at [email protected]

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Credit: www.marketwatch.com /

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