Bill Ackman might score a big win at Chipotle

Bill Ackman, the activist hedge fund manager that heads Pershing Square Capital Management, is nearing a seat on Chipotle’s board.

According to a report from David Benoit and Julie Jargon at the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, Ackman and Chipotle are nearing an agreement that would give Pershing Square a board seat at the firm, allowing the investor a say in the direction of the chain.

The settlement, as noted by the Journal as well, would avoid any public battle between the company and Ackman. Pershing Square took a 9.9% ownership stake in the fast casual Mexican restaurant chain on September 9.

The chain has seen its stock price drop over the past year due to a food illness and health scare that has weighed on sales and the company’s reputation. In its third quarter results in late October, Chipotle reported that its sales were still down nearly 22% from the same quarter a year before.

According to the Journal’s story, the a board change could lend a fresh voice as Chipotle has the second-longest average tenure for board members of any restaurant company behind only Buffalo Wild Wings.

The Journal also noted that the deal is not final, and could fall through.

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