Dan Loeb, founder of the hedge fund Third Point LLC, is best known for shareholder activism and sending nasty letters to executives who he believes are doing a poor job, but he recently told the audience at an American Enterprise Institute panel (which included the Dalai Lama) that he started meditating in 1995, reports Kelly Bit and Saijel Kishan for Bloomberg.
“Meditation, contemplation — it’s not just for monks and hermits,” said Dan Loeb at the AEI’s conference Moral Free Enterprise-Economic Perspectives in Business and Politics. “When we make choices they come not just from what’s going to create a favorable outcome but, as the Dalai Lama said, to make sure we make decisions that do no harm that are consistent with a moral framework.”
Dan Loeb, the Kanye of Wall Street, meditates and does yoga
This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard about Loeb’s interest in meditation. A Vanity Fair article last year talked about his yoga practice, which Dan Loeb says he started shortly before he began meditating, but that article also quoted an anonymous hedge fund manager calling Loeb the Kanye of Wall Street, which is probably closer to his public image. His high profile fights with Sothebys (NYSE:BID) and Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) (TYO:6758) over the direction of the business, his short squeeze against Ackman on Herbalife, and a reputation for publicly trashing managers after shorting their companies has given Loeb a reputation for being vicious. Imagining him sitting in quiet contemplation is a bit odd.
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Meditating on the Dow
Loeb’s most recent spat is with The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW), who rejected Dan Loeb’s advice to sell off its petrochemical division. While Loeb hasn’t revealed the exact size of his stake in Dow, it’s estimated to be about $1.3 billion out of the company’s $55.3 billion market cap. The suggestion, while apparently not welcome, wasn’t a complete non sequitur. Dow has been restructuring for the last six years, selling off divisions with low margins or weak earnings to focus on becoming a ‘vertically integrated science company’. It has also been cutting costs through plant closings and layoffs to free up cash for other uses, like the $18.8 billion acquisition of Rohm and Haas Co.
Since The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW) wants to be a vertically integrated company that sells specialized materials and plastics, selling its petrochemical division doesn’t seem to mesh with the overall game plan (the board said the company stood to lose out on economies of scale and cross-platform tech), even if Dan Loeb isn’t convinced that the division is pulling its weight.