Herbalife has a lot of critics, both on Wall Street and in Washington DC, who argue that the company’s business model is a pyramid scheme. But the beleaguered nutritional supplement firm also has some powerful and wealthy supporters including Carl Icahn and Bill Stiritz.
Nearly everyone has heard of Carl Icahn, the legendary corporate raider and hedge fund billionaire, but relatively few people know the name Bill Stiritz. He is a long-time food industry exec who was the Chairman of Post Holdings from 2011 to November 2014. Stiritz is also the largest individual investor in Herbalife, and the fifth largest shareholder overall. His current almost 7.6 million share stake in the multi-level marketing firm is worth over $300 million at Monday’s price of around $42 per share.
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Stiritz changes status to “passive investor”
In an interview with BloombergBusiness on Sunday, Bill Stiritz said he was not planning to sell his stake in Herbalife after changing his status from an active shareholder to passive.
Stiritz noted he had spoken to Herbalife about “options” regarding a two-year fight with hedge fund titan Bill Ackman, claims the company is based on an illegal pyramid scheme. He said that given he’s no longer in active discussions with management, he changed to passive investor status in a filing with the SEC on April 3rd.
This status change led to speculation that Stiritz was going to sell his reported 8.2 percent stake in the nutrition firm. Of note, Herbalife’s shares are up more than 14% so far this year through last Friday. The stock, however, was down 52% in 2014 due to bad PR regarding several ongoing government investigations. The stock was down almost 4% to $41.33 after an hour of trading on Monday
Bill Stiritz comments on Ackman and Herbalife
“As I sit right now, I couldn’t be happier with my investment in Herbalife,” Stiritz noted in an interview on Sunday. “I am more resolved than ever in the legitimacy of the model.”
He also commented on the ongoing FTC investigation of the company. “People that are long in the stock are looking at the impact of the FTC case closure. Herbalife will likely get little if any fine.”
Stiritz continued to give Bill Ackman his props. “This guy Ackman is a formidable competitor, you’ve got to give him credit for that. Whether it’s legitimate, history will tell.”