William Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management lost at least $450 million on its investment in J.C. Penney Co. Inc. — and it could have been even higher.
This story first appeared in the August 28, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Pershing Square said Tuesday that the sale of its 39 million shares of Penney’s has priced at $12.90 a share. The offering is expected to close on Friday.
Citigroup acted as sole book-running agent and underwriter.
Ackman’s share purchases ranged in price from $20 to $29, with the midrange at $24.50. The pricing at $12.90 a share is a 47.3 percent drop from the average purchase price of $24.50. That represents at least a $452.4 million loss on his investment, although it is likely higher if more shares were initially purchased closer to the $29-a-share range.
Earlier this month, Ackman and Penney’s board were involved in a directors’ conflict in which Ackman sought the ouster of board chairman Thomas Engibous and the acceleration of a chief executive officer search to replace current ceo Myron “Mike” Ullman 3rd. The activist investor saw Ullman as an interim chief and believed the board was dragging its feet when it came to finding a successor. He also had concerns about the company’s capital investment plans, cost control, inventory management and business planning processes. Ackman also added fuel to the fire when he made public letters he sent to the board outlining his dissatisfaction with the pace of change.
The activist investor lost that fight when Penney’s board decided they are in full support of the efforts of both Engibous and Ullman.
Ackman in turn resigned from Penney’s board.
Penney’s will not receive any proceeds from the offering.
Shares of the retailer were down 1.4 percent Tuesday to $13.17. Nearly 99.1 million shares changed hands, compared with a three-month average trading volume of 13 million shares.