Zoetis Falls As Ackman Sells Stake

The price of shares in Zoetis fell over 2% on Tuesday after it was reported that Bill Ackman is planning to trim his stake in the company.

A report in the New York Times revealed that the billionaire hedge fund manager would be trimming 16.85 million shares from his position in Zoetis. Ackman’s fund Pershing Square Capital Management will reportedly be selling $800 million with a price range of $46.75 to $47, this is a big departure from only weeks ago when Ackman sounded rather bullish on the company.

Ackman to cut Zoetis stake

According to the report the sale would bring Ackman’s holding down to 25 million shares. The Zoetis share price has fallen more than 3% this year, and was trading around $46 on Tuesday.

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The NYT reports that the transaction will be worth nearly $800 million. The sale will be backed by Bank of America and Credit Suisse. In November 2014 Ackman bought a $1.5 billion position in the former animal health arm of Pfizer, and shares have risen over 15% since that date.

Pershing Square representative William Doyle was elected to the board of Zoetis last year. He will now resign from that position.

Valeant drags down Pershing Square performance

Ackman’s fund has been having a difficult year, falling over 26% since the start of 2016. That fall can largely be blamed on its position in Valeant, the embattled pharmaceutical giant that is being investigated by the feds because of its drug pricing policies.

The fund has large positions in a dozen companies, which makes it vulnerable to sharp changes in those holdings. Valeant’s struggles are reflected in the poor performance of the fund due to the fact that shares in the company make up a large proportion of its total holdings.

It seems that Ackman may be selling the shares in order to raise cash. This may be in response to redemption requests from investors, or he could be planning to make a new investment.

The fund also sold some of its stake in another holding in March. Pershing Square sold 20 million shares in Mondelez International, the food and beverage company.

Shares in Mondelez were down 7% this year at the time of the sale. Ackman must be hoping that Valeant can come out the other side of its recent troubles.