Clean audit on Herbalife set back Ackman's pyramid claim

December 17
3:20 AM 2013

According to a report by Bloomberg, Herbalife Ltd's recent re-audit found to have no material changes, which dispelled pyramid scheme charges of activist investor Bill Ackman. The hedge fund manager said he has lost up to $500 million by investing in the nutrition company.

After the completion of the re-audit conducted by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP for the fiscal years 2010, 2011 and 2012, the shares of the vitamins and meal-replacement shakes maker soared in the market. In a statement, it was said that Herbalife is now updated with its filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management LP initially sold short a minimum of 20 million in Herbalife shares, and has lost money in its bet despite the stock more than doubled its trading price this year. Herbalife has consistently rejected Ackman's claims, said the news agency. Investors including billionaire Carl Icahn have backed the nutrition company.

In an interview about Herbalife's re-audit results, Icahn said yesterday, "We are very happy, but I don't think it was unexpected. It is a good company, it is still undervalued, it's a growth company which gives work to a lot of people and what Ackman says is nonsense."

Yesterday in New York, Herbalife's shares rose 9.4% to $74.83 per share, which was the biggest one-day gain since May of this year.

Pershing Square, in a response regarding the re-audit results, also said yesterday in a statement, which read, "It is not the role of Herbalife's auditor to determine if the company is a pyramid scheme. Rather, that determination depends on whether distributors earn more from recruiting new distributors than from retail sales to consumers who are not distributors."

In a separate e-mail, Ackman appeared to shot down PwC's latest audit results on Herbalife's financial statement, and said, "Remember, Enron also had audited financial statements."

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