Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) shares have been halted today at $38.39 for some big news. People familiar with the matter told the New York Times that accounting firm KPMG would have to resign as the auditor of Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF).
Yesterday, the accounting firm fired a senior partner for providing insider information to an unnamed person who then traded shares of many West Coast companies.
However, KPMG didn’t name the senior partner it fired yesterday. The firm also didn’t disclosed the names of companies whose information was disclosed by its senior partner.
In a late development, Herb Greenberg said that Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) shares were not halted due to KPMG’s announcement. Greenberg said if the hault for Herbalife Ltd (NYSE:HLF) is because of its the auditor’s resignation – the stock should have reopened as the news seeped out. But the stock hasn’t opened yet.
The resignation of KPMG is in no way related to Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF). So, why would it matter one way or the other to Herbalife shareholders? For several months Herbalife has been the center of battle between hedge fund titans.
On one side, Bill Ackman has taken a big short position in the company, calling it a pyramid scheme and predicting that the nutritional supplement maker would eventually collapse. On the other side, there is Carl Icahn and Dan Loeb who have backed the stock. In fact, Icahn has now become the largest shareholder in Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF).
When the stock was halted, there were speculations that Carl Icahn might increase his stake. However, the actual case remains a mystery.
Bill Ackman recently ousted Ron Johnson, the chief executive officer of the struggling retailer and rehired Mike Ullman whom he had fired in November 2011. Now his another big bet Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) is on the line.
UPDATE 10:39 AM EST: According to Business Insider, the KPMG senior partner was allegedly leaking information to someone. That third party is not Bill Ackman or Carl Icahn. So, who is it?