Vanity Fair is planning to publish a story on the war that has been brewing between hedge fund titans, Bill Ackman and Dan Loeb, over Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF). The story will be in print in its April issue and online next week . From the looks of the preview made available, this story is going to explore all the bad sides of Bill Ackman, his over-righteousness, arrogance, over-competitiveness - in short every bad thing that Carl Icahn has called him.
While VF's angle may not be fully visible from the preview only, the way the writer (William D. Cohan) pitches Ackman and Loeb as rivals in this long/short match - where their egos are clashing - seems more sensational than based on hard facts. We are obviously pointing out Loeb's apparent lack of interest in Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) - except of course for his intention of making quick profits from it. The more obvious battle of egos is between Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman, Icahn has an active stake in Herbalife as opposed to Loeb's passive holding.
Anyways, the article is not aimed to explore the fine points of investing, so the Loeb vs Ackman angle suffices especially when details from Bill Ackman's infamous bike ride with Loeb are added in the mix. Ackman got overzealous on a recreational bike ride with Loeb back in summer of last year, leaving all other riders behind and then later getting so dehydrated that someone had to lead him back to his home.
Robert Chapman, an investor and friend of Dan Loeb also chips in with comments on how superior Ackman thinks he is despite his many failures. Chapman entered Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF)'s long side when Ackman disclosed his short in December, he then exited the position in February. Chapman also shared his thoughts on Bill Ackman's personality in his interview with Bloomberg, but his judgment was less brutal than what he said to Vanity Fair,
“... he’s just pompous and arrogant ...,” says Chapman. “The disgusted, annoyed look on his face when confronted by the masses beneath him is like one you’d expect to see [from someone] confronted by a homeless person who hadn’t showered in weeks. You can almost see him puckering his nostrils so he doesn’t have to smell these inferior creatures.”
VF's story also mentions how Ackman still thinks that he scored less than 800 on his SATs not because his answers were wrong, but the questions were wrong. Maybe Ackman has a unique sense of humor. We eagerly await Vanity Fair's full story The Big Short War, next week.