Ackman says he remains committed to Valeant's bid for Allergan

Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:41pm EDT
 
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By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

BOSTON (Reuters) - Billionaire investor William Ackman is digging in on getting a hostile takeover bid for Botox maker Allergan Inc. done.

As the company's biggest investor, the hedge fund manager told clients on Wednesday that his firm, Pershing Square Capital Management, "will continue to focus on getting a transaction completed and maximizing the value of our investment."

In his most extensive comments in weeks on Valeant Pharmaceuticals' $48.7 billion hostile bid for Allergan, Ackman suggested he and other Allergan shareholders will be successful in forcing the company to call a special meeting. He hopes to replace the bulk of directors with new board members who will be willing to accept Valeant's bid, first made April 22.

Last week two prominent proxy advisory firms suggested that Allergan shareholders side with Ackman in calling for a special meeting. "Their support is a good leading indicator of the probability of success of our efforts," Ackman wrote.

One quarter of Allergan's shareholders must call for the meeting and while Pershing Square has been mum on how many others have signed up, people familiar with other shareholders' thinking suggest more than 25 percent are siding with Ackman.

"Based on their scorched-earth attempts to stop or delay the meeting, Allergan's management and board appear to already know that their shareholders do not support them," Ackman wrote to clients, including state pension funds and wealthy individuals.

His comments follow two days after activist hedge fund manager Jeffrey Ubben, a top Valeant shareholder, told Reuters that a drawn out bidding war for Allergan might be too distracting and the company does not have to buy the Botox maker. That sparked speculation that some Valeant shareholders appear to be urging the company to walk away.

Ackman's committed tone in his letter suggests that he is nowhere near ready to give up on a proposed deal that has already earned his investors a big return after Allergan's share price jumped in the wake of the announced bid. His largest portfolio has gained 25 percent in 2014, ranking Pershing Square as one of this year's best performing hedge fund firms.   Continued...

 
Bill Ackman, chief executive officer and portfolio manager of Pershing Square Capital Management, L.P., speaks at the Ira Sohn Investment Conference in New York, May 8, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid