Here’s a real mystery.
Barbarian Capital — a top slot follow on Finance Twitter — did some close reading on what seemed like a benign sheet of paper on Bill Ackman’s desk found in this picture from Katrina Brooker’s big profile of Ackman published Tuesday on Bloomberg.
It turns out, this piece of paper was not blank.
Per Barbarian Cap’s investigation, it appears that the names written on this piece of paper include a number of corporate CEOs and other executives, including:
- Juan Ramon Alaix (of Zoetis, recent activist long for Ackman)
- Paul Fribourg (CEO of Continental Grain, board member at Burger King, Wyndham Worldwide Resorts, Loews Corporation, Estee Lauder, and Apollo Education)
- David Sokol (formerly of Berkshire Hathaway)
- Dennis Reilley (Praxair, DuPont, Covidien, Dow, Marathon Oil) [spelled as Reilly]
- Mike Pearson (of Valeant)
But what does it mean?!
Barbarian Cap’s post says some chatter on Twitter floated the theory that Ackman wanted the list to be seen, considering how things were arranged on his desk.
Mike Pearson was certainly a big part of Ackman’s Allergan/Valeant play, and Ackman has stakes in Zoetis and Burger King according to his latest 13F, so Fribourg and Alaix’s names make sense.
But as for the other names?
According to Brooker’s story, it seems Brooker met with Ackman on a “Saturday afternoon in November” away from Pershing Square’s office, while Brooker relays a scene of Ackman being asked for an autograph outside Pershing’s office in “early December.”
Brooker also indicates being Pershing’s offices “one afternoon,” though a month isn’t specified.
This is all to say we don’t know when the picture of Ackman was taken.
On Wednesday, Bill Ackman appeared as a guest on CNBC’s Squawk Box and talked about Herbalife, among other things, but did not give any new info a stake.
On Tuesday, Business Insider’s Julia La Roche reported that Ackman has a new short position, though details on his latest position are light.
The mystery continues.