Bill Ackman, the CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, was on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” this morning to talk about his bullish case for JCPenney following a piece by Andrew Ross Sorkin in the NYTimes that ripped into the retailer.
In short, it was an incredibly awkward 14 minute segment for both sides.
Now look, we like Ackman. He’s one of the most media savvy hedge fund managers out there. Sorkin is great too.
However, this interview was a total train wreck.
The context is that Ackman is the largest JCP shareholder, and has taken a bath on the stock so far. So naturally, coming into the spotlight, and putting a positive face on things (which Ackman does very well), is going to be difficult.
Here are some highlights. We’ve included the full CNBC video below.
1:09: Ackman passes out these “little pins” that Ron Johnson is using instead of the traditional coupons and promotions. Customers can take these pins and punch a number into their phone to find out if they win a “cute little prize” such as a trip to Disney World or a $500 gift card. How does he know it works? Ackman says he was buying a banana in the CNBC cafeteria and Andrea (she does make up at CNBC) asked about the pin and if she could have one and how she could get more of them.
3:13: Although no one was really interrupting like they sometimes tend to do on the show at this point, Ackman says, “Before you interrupt. I’ve got to explain. This is important.”
3:19: Ackman then holds up some visuals he brought along to show the shops Ron Johnson will have implemented in JCPenney.
Photo: CNBC sreengrab
4:46: Again, Ackman doesn’t want to be interrupted by the hosts. “Hold on…Hold on. You gotta. This is important. I know on CNBC you like things really short.”
5:15: Same thing moments later. “Stick with me….The thing he needs to do, and I’ll give you a chance to cut in in a second.”
5:28: Sorkin jumps in, “Now it’s my turn.” Ackman says, “Hold on.” Sorkin says, “No no we’re not doing an advertisement for JCPenney.” Ackman responds that he’s not advertising, but “explaining.”
8:48: Ackman tells Sorkin that he interrupts a lot. “I don’t think I’m making myself clear. Hold on. You interrupt a lot. Now it’s my turn to speak.”
Photo: CNBC screengrab
10:43: Sorkin asks Ackman if he thinks it’s fair to Ron Johnson to compare JCPenney to his experience at Apple. Ackman says, “yes.” Ackman makes the case that both Johnson and the product at Apple deserve credit and the same thing will be true at JCPenney.
13:09: Sorkin says, “For your sake and for Ron Johnson’s sake I hope this works. I am a believer in great comeback stories.
13:25: Ackman starts making an analogy about how he can own JCPenney and CNBC starts playing music for the commercial break. (It plays for about a minute) “I get a chance we come back after a commercial, I’m happy to stay,” Ackman says. Then, Sorkin says, “I think we’re going.” Ackman responds, “Give me one minute and I’m happy to come back another time.”
14:25: It’s over.
Watch the full video here:
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