Sorry, folks, but this hedge fund fight over Herbalife (HLF) is just too big for the close confines of Wall Street. Even with all the extra security the NYSE has added over the years, we simply don't think it can handle hostile combatants armed with this much firepower.
There is only one man who can host a battle royal this big, in our opinion. And now that his wife is done spending his millions in futile bids to become a low-paid public servant, he can finally get back to business.
Yeah, you know who we're talking about. We can see it on the marquee at Madison Square Garden now: WWE's Vince McMahon presents HerbalifeMania.Damn straight. Forget talking heads blabbering on CNBC or speeches at the next Ira Sohn Conference. Only Vince can pull off a production befitting this heavyweight matchup. In one corner, Bill "The Animal" Ackman (no relation to George "The Animal" Steele as far as we know). Ackman, who runs the $11 billion Pershing Square hedge fund, is betting $1 billion that Herbalife stock will fall to zero. He laid his case right on the mat in a 300-plus slide presentation -- the dreaded PowerPoint being Ackman's fiercest move -- in which he called the weight-loss supplement maker a "pyramid scheme." Tending Bill's corner as his manager will be David "The Unicorn" Einhorn. He leveled Lehman Brothers, strafed St. Joe and hammered Herbalife shares by 30% last spring with a single question. But this time around he's guarding his buddy's back because Bill's got a massive target on it -- and the last thing Bill needs is another Target. And in the other corner, Dan "The Resume Reader" Loeb (after his vicious takedown of former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson). Loeb runs the $10 billion Third Point fund, and he reportedly has been itching to take a swing at Ackman ever since they failed miserably in their attempt to tag-team Target. Loeb slammed Ackman's Herbalife fraud accusations and said he amassed an 8% stake in the company "during the panicked selling that followed the short seller's dramatic claims." Shares of the company sank almost 40% to $24 on Ackman's attack, but have returned to pre-Ackman levels since Loeb threw his hat in the ring. In Loeb's corner is Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson. Frankly speaking, Johnson should remain as quiet as Mr. Fuji because he never really helps his company's case when he pops up on CNBC. (Not that Loeb needs any help in a brawl, anyway, as the newly unemployed investment bankers at Morgan Stanley are now learning.) Finally, the referee will be Herb "No Relation" Greenberg. The CNBC commentator wants to be in that ring. Scratch that. Herb needs to be in that ring and we want him there, too, especially if he's hyped up on Green Mountain Coffee. It will be Herb's job to maintain a fair fight and keep billionaire investor Carl Icahn out of the squared circle. Or let him in. Heck, the more, the merrier. All that leaves is the rules for Vince's hedge fund free-for-all. Should it be a Lumberjack match? Ironman match? Steel cage, perhaps? No way. It's gotta be bigger than that. We're talking "Loser Leaves Greenwich." And it's on, baby!
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