Bill Ackman has said he will go "to the end of the earth" to bring down Herbalife. Tomorrow, he will take the fight to China.
The hedge fund billionaire plans to unveil new evidence Tuesday that he says shows Herbalife (HLF), which sells nutritional supplements through a network of independent distributors, is operating in violation of Chinese law.
Pershing Square Capital Management, Ackman's $11 billion hedge fund, will release a report showing that Herbalife's business in China is run "as a pyramid scheme," according to a press release issued last week.
Ackman first called Herbalife a pyramid scheme more than a year ago when he disclosed a $1 billion bet the company's stock price will fall. So far, the trade has not worked out. Herbalife shares are up nearly 60% over the past 12 months, leading to significant paper losses for Pershing.
But the decision to open a new front against Herbalife in China suggests that Ackman has no intention of backing down. He told Bloomberg TV in November that he was prepared to "go to the end of the earth" to win his bet.
Ackman argues that Herbalife makes its money by selling products to distributors, who in turn sell to other local sales people, rather than actual end users. He has accused Herbalife of targeting Latinos in the U.S. as an attempt to exploit immigrant communities.
For its part, Herbalife says its business practices are no different than other "multi-level" marketing companies, such as Avon (AVP) and NuSkin (NUS). The company has dismissed Ackman's claims as unfounded and motivated by profit.
But Ackman has used aggressive tactics to draw attention to what he says is "an inherently fraudulent company."
According to a report Monday in the New York Times, he has funded letter-writing campaigns and grass-roots groups to rally support for his cause. He has also lobbied members of Congress, including Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, who called on regulators to investigate Herbalife in January after receiving complaints from constituents.
Herbalife noted Ackman's lobbying in a statement Monday.
"Another day, another baseless attack from Bill Ackman," a spokeswoman for the company said. "Having failed to make his case on Wall Street, he took his fight to Washington, DC and the states. Now that those efforts to buy his way to an investigation have been exposed, he is going to China. We are confident in the strength of our consumption based business model in China."
But when it comes to buying influence in Washington, Herbalife appears to be outspending Ackman.
The company, which had $4.8 billion in sales last year, spent nearly $2 million on federal lobbying in 2013, according to filings cited by Reuters. By contrast, Pershing spent $264,000 on lobbyists last year, the report states.
Meanwhile, another big-name hedge fund manager has taken up the other side of Ackman's bet.
Bill Ackman, the activist hedge fund manager who most recently made headlines over his big short position on Herbalife, zeroed in on Procter & Gamble at the Sohn Investment Conference in New York Wednesday.
The CEO of Procter & Gamble (PG) is one busy man, but that doesn't mean he's solely focused on his work at the helm of one of the world's largest corporations.
Bob McDonald, who's led P&G MOREMaureen Farrell - May 8, 2013 3:38 PM ET
It's a tough week to be a retailer in search of customers. First, the shares of J.C. Penney (JCP) cratered after the Ron Johnson-led retailer reported abysmal fourth-quarter numbers Wednesday night.
Next up: Sears (SHLD). The iconic retailer can't turn a profit or get customers excited about its merchandise or Kmart's. After reporting yet another quarter of steep losses early Thursday, Sears' stock dropped nearly 5%.
Releasing results so close to JCPenney at least makes MOREMaureen Farrell - Feb 28, 2013 3:15 PM ET
Hedge fund titans Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn squared off over Herbalife (HLF) Friday afternoon. And it was like a scene from a kindergarten playground.
For 30 minutes, the two lobbed insults at each other on CNBC as Ackman's bet on Herbalife's stock falling to zero drew the ire (and a litany of insults) from Icahn.
After listening to the confrontation, the public now knows a few things about these two.
For one, MOREMaureen Farrell - Jan 25, 2013 3:30 PM ET
Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman outlined why he and his team of analysts have dubbed the nutritional supplement company Herbalife (HLF) as a "pyramid scheme" at a conference in New York Thursday morning.
Herbalife's stock dropped nearly 4% Thursday, its second straight day of sharp drops. The vitamin maker's stock dropped more than 12% Wednesday, after CNBC reported that Ackman had been betting against the stock for most of 2012. MOREMaureen Farrell - Dec 20, 2012 12:52 PM ET
Will the third trip to the public markets be the charm for Burger King's investors?
Burger King (BKW) started trading on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, and the home of the Whopper quickly popped nearly 7% from its opening price of $14.50.
In early April, the world's second largest hamburger fast food chain announced a new healthier menu replete with salads, wraps and smoothies. (The new bacon sundae is a glaring MOREMaureen Farrell - Jun 20, 2012 10:54 AM ET
|SpaceX launches and lands another rocket|
|Limbaugh on the news media: 'They're enemies of Trump'|
|Bill Gates warns the world to prep for bio-terrorism|
|Carl Bernstein: Trump's attacks on the press 'more treacherous' than Nixon's|
|China grants Trump a trademark he's been seeking for a decade|