The whisper on Wall Street is that hedge fund titan Bill Ackman’s returns are not as impressive as recently published reports would have you believe.
Last week Bloomberg published hedge fund titan Bill Ackman’s lifetime returns. The story cited data from LCH Investments NV, a firm that invests in hedge funds. LCH calculated that Pershing Square, which had a monster 2014 of 40% returns, made $US4.5 billion for his clients that year.
LCH also said that, over its lifetime, Pershing Square has made $US11.6 billion for its clients.
This $US11.6 billion figure is the one some of Ackman’s industry peers do not believe.
To that end, some of them have been sending around a chart — embedded below — that shows Ackman’s lifetime returns have only been $US8.5 billion, more than $US3 billion less than the reported figure.
Here’s the chart:
The disparity between LCH’s figure and the one noted in the chart above has to do with a side bet, or “special purpose vehicle” or “SPV,” that Ackman allowed some of Pershing’s clients to make with him over the past few years.
It’s well publicized that the SPV’s 2008’s investment in Target was a big loser for Pershing, and that he raised $US2 billion for it. This calculation assumes that he lost it all.
Pershing also created SPVs for investments in Burger King, McDonald’s, Sears, and most recently Air Products.
LCH did not respond to requests for comment.
All this said, with either $US8.5 billion or $US11.6 billion in capital returned, Ackman has no doubt been a successful hedge manager these past few years.
The real news here, then, is how quick hedge fund land is to send out charts like the one above. They just don’t like Ackman or believe his numbers.
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