Herbalife shares climbed as much as 13.48% to $38.96 per share during regular trading hours today after a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a shareholder regarding its business model. The judge ruled that shareholder Abdul Awad did not prove that Herbalife committed fraud because the case was based on allegations raised by activist investor and short-seller Bill Ackman.
Fraud at Herbalife not proved
Sophia Pearson, Edvard Pettersson and Duane Stanford of Bloomberg report that U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer gave the ruling in a court document dated March 16. The dismissal of the case marks a win for Herbalife, but it doesn’t completely set Ackman’s allegations to rest.
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The activist investor accuses Herbalife of being a pyramid scheme, which the company denies. Judge Fischer’s ruling did not in any way address the allegation that the multi-level marketing misrepresented its business. It simply stated that the plaintiff did not prove the accusation.
The plaintiffs can amend their complaint until April 8, although the judge also stated in his ruling that even an amended pleading “will likely fail absent allegations that identify particular misrepresentations concerning specific components of Herbalife’s operations.”
One subpoenaed in connection with Ackman’s Herbalife short
Bill Ackman admitted on CNBC last week that he was appear that investigators had contacted workers associated with Global Strategy Group, a firm Pershing Square hired in its battle against Herbalife. Now there another detail has come out.
Global Strategy said federal prosecutors interviewed them to see if there was any evidence that Ackman or Pershing Square manipulated the markets in connection with their short of Herbalife stock. The firm stated further that it isn’t a target of any investigation, reports Edmund Mahony of the Hartford Courant.
The report also states that approximately 30 letters or complaints about Herbalife were sent to Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen. An investigator reviewed those letters, which Jepsen released publicly after receiving a request under the Freedom of Information Act. The investigator reportedly said many of the letters were very similar and suggested that they were form letters.
Hairdresser said to be subpoenaed in Herbalife case
Hairdresser Israel Alvarez signed one of those letters and reportedly was subpoenaed by investigators. Many know Alvarez for his work with a number of well-known public figures, including former Gov. John Rowland and others.
The Hartford Courant cites unnamed sources as saying that Alvarez’s letter was exactly the name as one that was signed by Republican Enfield Committee chairperson Mary Ann Turner. The letters reportedly call Herbalife a “complex and abusive pyramid scheme.”
No one has been charged in connection with the investigations involving Herbalife and Ackman’s firm. We have reached out to Herbalife and representatives for Bill Ackman’s firm Pershing Square for comment and will update this story if we receive responses.
Update: Pershing Square declined to comment for this story. An Herbalife spokesperson provided the following statement: “We welcome the decision by the court to dismiss the case. As we have consistently stated, we are confident in the strong fundamentals of our business model and remain committed to helping people and communities improve their nutrition.”
The full lawsuit can be viewed below