Embattled activist investor Bill Ackman on Monday made a pitch to hedge fund managers to follow him and invest in real estate developer Howard Hughes (HHC) arguing that the investment in the so-called "master planned community" company could one day be as successful as one made by billionaire Donald Bren.

Howard Hughes shares spiked upwards about 4% on the news, trading at $126.50 a shares Monday afternoon.

The activist fund has been investing in the company, which is not a Real Estate Investment Fund, for a number of years. He explained to the Sohn conference that Howard Hughes, which is based in Dallas, Texas, will have its first investor day shortly.

Howard Hughes Corp. was founded by Howard Hughes, the father of American business tycoon, pilot and film director Howard Hughes Jr., who later diversified it into real estate development company. "You think of Howard Hughes [Jr.] as an aviator, but he made most his money in real estate," Ackman said at the Sohn conference in New York.  

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Ackman started his presentation by pointing to a real estate development business launched by Donald Bren, whose net worth is valued at $15.2 billion on the Forbes billionaire list, based on years of development in a master planned community in Irving Ranch in Orange County, Calif. Bern bought out his partners over the years, Ackman noted, adding that while investors can't participate in Bern's developments they can buy shares in his Howard Hughes investment.

"The question is how to invest in the style of Donald Bren?" Ackman asked. "The answer is a company called the Howard Hughes Company." 

The company has developments across the U.S. including in New York, Maryland, Houston and Las Vegas. 

Pershing Square owns a 13% stake in Howard Hughes, according to a January 2016 activist 13D filing. He's owned a stake since 2010 and has "never sold a share." 

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