Who Is Bill Ackman?
William Albert Ackman, popularly known as Bill Ackman, is an American investor and hedge fund manager. Ackman is the founder and current CEO of the hedge fund management company, Pershing Square Capital Management. He founded the company by investing $54 million of his own funds.
Bill Ackman’s investment style makes him a contrarian investor. However, Ackman widely regards himself as an activist investor.
As an activist investor, Bill Ackman is noted for pursuing long-term, sometimes controversial investments, but those whose returns are almost always assured. According to Bill, his primary investment rule is “to make a bold call that nobody believes in.” A case in point is when he predicted a market crash during the height of the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020. To cushion his empire from crumbling due to a possible stock market crash, Ackman’s hedge fund risked $27 million in purchasing credit protection. The move paid off, generating $2.6 billion in under one month.
|Full Name:||William Albert Ackman|
|Popular Name:||Bill Ackman|
|Birth Date:||May 11, 1966|
|Parents:||Lawrence David Ackman and Ronnie I. Posner Ackman|
|Birth Place:||New York|
|Education:||Harvard College and Harvard Business School|
|Marital Status:||Married to Neri Oxman (from 2019); previously married to Karen Ann Herskovitz (from 1994 until their divorce in 2018)|
|Children:||3 from his first marriage to Karen Herskovitz (Eloise Ackman, Lucy Ackman, and Liza Ackman) and 1 child from current marriage to Neri Oxman|
|Net Worth:||USD 2.5 billion (as of April 1, 2021)|
|Source of Wealth:||Entrepreneurial Ventures|
|Height:||5′ 9″ (1.75 m)|
|Weight:||78 kg; In pounds: 172 lbs.|
Early Life and Career Information
Bill Ackman was born on May 11, 1966, in New York, to Lawrence David Ackman and Ronnie I. Posner Ackman. Ackman graduated from Harvard College in 1988 with a B.A in Social Studies. He later earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1992.
Bill Ackman kicked off his professional business career in 1992 by founding the investment company Gotham Partners, along with fellow Harvard graduate David P. Berkowitz. Gotham Partners mostly invested in public companies. Bill and David spent the next couple of years popularizing their startup.
In 1995, Ackman teamed up with the insurance and real estate company Leucadia National to bid for Rockefeller Center. Although the bid was unsuccessful, it generated widespread interest in Gotham Partners. Three years later, the company was managing assets worth $500 million.
In 2004, Bill Ackman invested $54 million from his personal fund to found the hedge fund company Pershing Square Capital Management. In 2005, Pershing acquired a significant stake in the fast-food chain Wendy’s International. However, leadership disputes soon ensued, forcing Ackman to sell his Wendy’s shares.
In 2007, Pershing Square Capital Management commanded a 10% stake in Target Corporation. The stake was valued at $4.2 billion.
By December 2010, Pershing held a 38% stake in Borders Group. The same month, Ackman revealed his intentions of financing a buyout of Barnes & Noble, to the tune of $900 million.
In December 2012, Pershing Square Capital Management unveiled a new closed-end fund known as Pershing Square Holdings. The fund raised $3 billion during an October 2014 Initial Public Offering (IPO) on Amsterdam’s Euronext stock market.
In January 2015, Pershing Square Capital Management reported a net gain of $4.5 billion for investors in 2014. By this time, the fund had recorded $11.6 billion in lifetime gains since its establishment in 2004.
Bill Ackman’s Net Worth
Bill Ackman has achieved incredible wealth thanks to his reputation for undertaking high-risk investments. As of April 1, 2021, Ackman had a net worth of $2.5 billion.
The vast majority of Ackman’s wealth comes from his own hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management. According to Institutional Investor, Bill earned an estimated $1.4 billion in 2020. Up to 80% of that amount could be attributed to Pershing.
Besides Pershing Square Capital Management, Bill Ackman has made numerous other investments in high-profile companies over the years. Ackman is noted for acquiring stakes in Target Corporation, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals. In March 2017, he sold his 27.2 million shares in Valeant Pharmaceuticals to the investment bank Jefferies for an estimated $300 million.
Lessons from Bill Ackman
1. To succeed, you must be open to risks
Bill Ackman has a reputation for pursuing high-risk investments and going for broke to get what he wants. He invested a whopping $54 million in founding Pershing Square Capital Management. More recently, Ackman risked $27 million to purchase credit protection for his hedge fund as a way of cushioning the company from a possible stock market crash. Both decisions ultimately paid off.
2. It’s difficult to succeed in a hostile environment
Ackman purchased J.C Penney shares between 2010 and 2013. He reportedly paid an average of $22 for 39 million shares, or about 18% of the company’s stock. However, he later stepped down from J.C. Penney’s board citing hostility with fellow board members.
3. Remember the less fortunate
Like many billionaires, Bill Ackman donates a huge portion of his wealth to charitable causes. Some of the organizations he has supported include the Center for Jewish History, the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and the Innocent Project. Ackman is also a member of The Giving Pledge and has committed to donate at least half of his wealth to charity.
Famous Quotes by Bill Ackman
“I am always prepared to do the right thing regardless of what other people think.”
“If I believe that I am right, I will take it to the end of the earth until I am proven right.”
“In order to be successful, you have to make sure that being rejected doesn’t bother you at all.”
“Short-term market and economic prognostication is largely a fool’s errand, we invest according to a strategy that makes the need to rely on short-term market or economic assessments largely irrelevant.”
“You can learn investing by reading books.”
Bill Ackman is an American investor and hedge fund manager who has a net worth of $2.5 billion. Although he’s best known for founding Pershing Square Capital Management, Ackman has undertaken numerous investments during his professional career. His somewhat controversial investment style has attracted fans and critics in equal measure.