Herbalife continues to come under fire by short-seller and activist investor Bill Ackman, who fired the latest shots this morning in an interview on CNBC. This morning Ackman said the associates of some of the firms they hired to help them research Herbalife have been interviewed by the FBI.
It seems investors are siding with Herbalife this morning after Ackman’s interview, as the company’s stock price surged by as much as 14.14% to as high as $37.95 per share. At last check, the stock was still rising.
Ackman on Herbalife: only what he read in the papers
Ackman told CNBC’s Scott Wapner that his firm Pershing Square Capital Management hired consulting firm Global Strategy Group, which hires subcontractors around the country. He said the firm has helped Pershing with “government relations and lobbying” and that the FBI has apparently taken an interest in their findings.
“My understanding is that some of their, I think a handful of their people that they’ve hired or that work for them, have been interviewed by the FBI,” Ackman told Wapner.
Investigation going on since summer 2014 at least
Wapner said his sources indicated to him that the FBI’s investigation has been going on since last summer and asked Ackman to clarify something he had said previously. Ackman stated that the only things he knew about Herbalife were what he read in the paper.
Wapner asked him whether he had read about the FBI investigation in the paper, and Ackman stated that he was aware that Global Strategy Group representatives were subpoenaed by the Dept. of Justice and had given interview but that he didn’t know more than what he’s read in the papers.
Ackman said he himself has not been subpoenaed to testify on the topic of market manipulation or anything else.
Herbalife accused of making wrong statements
The activist investor estimates that they have spent less than $50 million on their fight against Herbalife, most of which went to legal fees. The second highest expense was investigative costs. He said they have used hidden cameras and recording devices when their investigators when into the company’s nutrition clubs and distribution centers.
Herbalife representatives apparently said recently that Pershing Square spent more than $75 million in its fight and accuse Ackman of making the allegations “to enrich himself.” However, Ackman states that he isn’t seeking to enrich himself because he is giving the profits away.
Ackman calls Herbalife a “criminal enterprise”
He also called Herbalife a “criminal enterprise” that “preys on principally undocumented Latino people in the United States and poor people around the world,” adding that he believes this is a “conscious strategy” followed by the company’s management.
“They are intentionally deceiving people, promising them that Herbalife is a wonderful business opportunity, and then they take their money, and that money gets transferred to a handful of people at the top of the pyramid,” said Ackman.
He also called for the company to go through his past presentation to pick out specific errors in what he said.
Spokespersons for both Herbalife and Pershing Square declined to comment to ValueWalk.