Billionaire investor Ackman reaches out to ADP retail investors in an attempt to soften his image

Billionaire investor William Ackman took his fight for board seats at Automatic Data Processing to retail investors on Tuesday in an unusually public format where he detailed his successes in addition to failures in addition to urged all to cast their votes.

For one hour, the Wall Street hedge fund manager spoke in a live webinar, fielding questions through Main Street investors about ADP’s culture, the company’s earnings potential in addition to what expertise he might bring, all while trying to soften his image of an impatient investor who likes to fire people.

“This kind of is actually your company in addition to you get to decide,” Ackman said, urging retail investors to vote their shares. “The decision to vote your shares is actually as important as voting for president of the United States,” he said, before showing a short tutorial on exactly how to vote for him.

The 51-year-old hedge fund manager is actually pushing ADP to cut bureaucracy, consolidate its real estate holdings in addition to enhance technology, all to boost earnings. He is actually seeking control of three seats out of ADP’s board of 10.

Ackman’s effort to reach retail investors illustrates just how critical This kind of group, which owns 28 percent of ADP, is actually in determining the outcome of the battle between himself in addition to the human-resources software company at the Nov. 7 vote. Ackman’s $10 billion hedge fund, Pershing Square Capital Management, holds an 8.3 percent economic stake in ADP although has only a 2 percent voting stake.

Until recently, retail investors have been largely ignored in proxy contests, partly because employees, retirees, in addition to amateur investors are often seen to side with management if they vote their shares at all.

For Ackman, who has won in addition to lost proxy battles, the stakes are high. While he has returned an average 15 percent a year over the last decade, his reputation has been hobbled by two years of double-digit losses in 2016 in addition to 2015, in addition to numerous prominent investors have pulled money out.

The importance of retail investors was illustrated on Tuesday as another activist, Trian Fund Management’s NelsonPeltz, appears to have lost his bid for one seat on the board at Procter & Gamble.

On the webinar, Ackman acknowledged mistakes like his bet on Valeant Pharmaceuticals, on which he took a more than $3 billion loss when he finally sold his stake. although he spent more time detailing achievements at Canadian Pacific Railway, Zoetis, in addition to Air Products & Chemicals, in addition to laid out the amount of money he in addition to the two some other board candidates have riding on ADP’s future success.

“We might have skin inside the game,” Ackman said. He also said he is actually open to having top executives stay in addition to might not envision large scale-layoffs.

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