Billionaire activist investor Bill Ackman, the CEO of $13 billion Pershing Square Capital, has released a short film on Herbalife, his infamous short position.
The 20-minute video is called “The American Dream Denied: Herbalife Victims Speak Out”. (See below)
“Herbalife claims it cleaned up its act after we exposed its fraudulent business model,” Pershing Square said on the webpage.
“The former Herbalife distributors we spoke with — all of whom recently pursued the Herbalife business opportunity in their communities throughout the US — tell a different story. Each of these distributors, who are among the 2 million others who drop out of HLF every year, left the business after realising that what they had been promised was a lie.”
The film featured Hispanic former distributors who said they lost money. Some said they lost around $30,000, while others said that they lost north of $100,000. The group of former distributors asserted that they couldn’t make money by selling the product. The only way to make money was to recruit others into becoming distributors and that left them in financial ruin.
This is the argument that Ackman has made about the company in the past.
For the video, participants’ travel expenses were paid for by Pershing Square. Pershing Square also agreed to indemnify participants for any losses they incur from participating in the film on the condition that their statements are truthful, the fund said in the movie’s end credits.
We’ve reached out to Herbalife for comment.
Ackman’s big short
For more than three years, Ackman has been crusading against Herbalife, a multi-level marketer that sells nutritional shakes and weight-loss products.
In late December 2012, Ackman publicly declared via a 342-slide presentation that he was short $1 billion worth of Herbalife. He believes the company is operating as a “pyramid scheme” that targets poor people. It’s his contention that regulators, specifically the Federal Trade Commission, will shut the company down.
Herbalife has always denied Ackman’s allegations.
In March 2014, the FTC opened an investigation into the company. There hasn’t been an update in that area.
It’s believed that Ackman shorted Herbalife in the mid-$40s. In October 2013, he repositioned about 40% of his $1 billion equity short position for put options in an effort to reduce risk.
Ackman has said multiple times that he would take his Herbalife short “to the end of the earth.”
Shares of Herbalife were last trading up $0.13, or up 0.3%, at $43.55.
Here’s the video:
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