Bill Ackman is an activist investor and renowned hedge fund manager. He’s the founder of Pershing Square Capital Management, a hedge fund with $18.5 billion in assets under management. According to Forbes, Bill Ackman has a net worth of $3.6 billion in 2023.
Born on May 11, 1966, Bill was raised by Ronnie I and Lawrence David Ackman in Chappaqua, New York. His father was the president of the Ackman-Ziff Real Estate Group, a real estate finance firm based in New York.
Ackman graduated from Harvard College in 1988 with a degree in Social Studies. Four years later, he got an MBA from Harvard Business School. Around this time, Bill was already starting to establish his career in investing.
Rise to Prominence
With fellow Harvard alumnus David P. Berkowitz, Ackman launched the investment firm Gotham Partners in 1992. By 1998 Gotham Partners had $500 million in AUM but closed its doors in 2003.
Bill became well-known for shorting MBIA in 2008. He claimed that MBIA was prohibited by law from trading billions of dollars of credit default swaps sold against mortgage-backed CDOs. In January 2009, he closed out his short trade against MBIA for a large profit.
Pershing Square Capital Management
In 2004, Ackman founded Pershing Square Capital Management with $54 million from his personal savings and an old business associate, Leucadia National (now Jefferies Financial Group). Bill is a big follower of Warren Buffett and buys large stakes in high-quality businesses.
Pershing purchased a major stake in Wendy’s in 2005 and persuaded the fast-food chain to sell its Tim Hortons doughnut franchise. Wendy’s stock price plummeted after Ackman sold his shares for a massive profit.
The shrewd New Yorker has invested in other companies, such as Target, Borders Group, JCPenney, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals. His investment in Valeant grabbed media attention on Wall Street but lost around $4 billion on his position.
Bill Ackman’s had many wins, but has experienced some big losses. One example is his scuffle with Herbalife. He called the multi-level marketing company a pyramid scheme and spent $50 million on a campaign against Herbalife in 2014. Bill had a $1 billion short position and later lost $760 million after selling as Herbalife’s value continued to rise.
In early 2022, Pershing Square purchased a $1.1 billion position in Netflix. Bill stated that he believed in the management team but later sold his stake for a loss on the back of a weak earnings report. As of August 2023, Ackman’s three biggest holdings are Lowe’s Companies Inc, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc and Restaurant Brands International Inc.
In 1994, Bill Ackman married landscape architect Karen Ann Herskovitz and had three children together (Eloise, Lucy, and Liza). Sadly, the couple split up after 25 years of marriage and went through a multimillion-dollar divorce. Ackman is now married to MIT professor Neri Oxman and they have a child together.
In 2018, he bought a 3-room penthouse in New York for roughly $22.5 million and has got approval to build a luxury rooftop penthouse on Central Park West. It’s safe to say the neighbors weren’t pleased!