William Albert Ackman, known professionally as Bill Ackman, is a business magnate and one of America’s wealthiest hedge fund managers. He is the billionaire head and creator of the hedge fund management firm Pershing Square Capital Management. As of 2022, Bill Ackman has a net worth of $3.1 billion.
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.
He went to Harvard College to study Social Sciences. Ackman graduated from Harvard College with a magna cum laude Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Studies in 1988.
Four years later, he graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA. Around this time, he was already starting to establish his investment career. He wagered against enterprises by shorting their stock when they are hot, but he finds weaknesses in their business strategy.
Rise to Prominence
With fellow Harvard alumnus David P. Berkowitz, Ackman launched the investment company Gotham Partners in 1992. Minimal investments in public firms were made by the firm.
Bill became well-known for his short positions in bond insurer MBIA in 2008 and 2009. He claimed that MBIA was prohibited by law from exchanging billions of dollars in credit default swap insurance sold against multiple collateralized debt obligations backed by mortgages.
It is said that his battle against MBIA started way back in 1992. But it was amidst the financial crisis from 2007 to 2008 that Ackman became renowned. He purchased credit default swaps over MBIA corporate bonds and traded them for a sizable profit.
Pershing Square Capital Management
Ackman founded Pershing Square Capital Management in 2004 with $54 million from his personal savings and his old business associate Leucadia National.
Pershing purchased a major stake in Wendy’s in 2005 and successfully 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.
After this, the smart businessman invested his money in other companies, such as Target, Borders Group, JCPenney, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals. He also established the closed-end fund Pershing Square Holdings.
Bill Ackman has 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.
He spent $50 million on a campaign against Herbalife in 2014, with the goal of impacting its stock price. He put a lot of money into it, but in the end, he lost the bet and sold as Herbalife’s value continued to rise.
His most recent endeavor was in early 2022. Pershing Square purchased a $1.1 billion position in Netflix. Bill stated that he believed in the management team of the streaming service.
In 1994, Bill Ackman tied the knot with landscape architect Karen Ann Herskovitz. Eloise, Lucy, and Liza were their three children. Sadly, the couple split up. Ackman is currently married to MIT professor Neri Oxman and have one child together.