Bill Ackman's 'death blow' leaves Herbalife unscathed as shares rally

Herbalife jumped more than 20% as Ackman delivered key presentation vowing to destroy the company
  • @mariatad

Poor Bill Ackman.

The hedge fund billionaire vowed to destroy Herbalife by unveiling what he claimed was an Enron-like web of corruption and fraud as part of a $50 million investigation into its activities.

But his attempt to bring down the nutritional supplement company didn't quite go as planned.

In fact, shares in Herbalife, which sells weight-loss products, rocketed more 20 per cent in New York trading just as Mr Ackman delivered a business presentation on Tuesday, telling his 300-strong audience that he is in it for the long run and Herbalife will fall.

In an emotional speech, Mr Ackman described the company as a "travesty" that preys on minorities and vulnerable clients and claimed that it operates as an fraudulent pyramid scheme, which makes money out recruiting, not selling products.

In response to his presentation, Herbalife insisted that his claim about the fraudulent nature of the nutritional clubs are "completely false and fabricated" and noting that "once again" the activist investor had "overpromised and underdelivered" in his attack against Herbarlife.

"After spending $50 million, two years and tens of thousands of man-hours, Bill Ackman further demonstrated today that the facts are on our side," it added in a statement.

Herbalife, which sells nutrition, weight-loss and skin-care products, has been at the centre of a Wall Street battle between Mr Ackman and Carl Icahn, a billionaire activist investor with a reputation for being a ruthless corporate raider, that goes back to 2012.

At the time, Mr Ackman's Pershing Square hedge fund made a $1 billion short bet against the company- meaning he makes money if the stock falls. His bet pitched him directly against Mr Icahn who took a “long” position in the company, sparking a highly-publicised feud between the two.