Activist investor William Ackman, the man who threw a wrench into billionaire Sears Chairman Edward Lampert's attempt to buy out Sears Canada Inc. last year, is back.
Ackman purchased 5 million shares in Sears Holdings Corp., a spokeswoman for his New York-based Pershing Square Capital Management hedge fund said Thursday, confirming a report in StreetInsider.com. He disclosed the stake in a speech at a Dallas charity event earlier this week, telling the audience he was 'thrilled' with Lampert's efforts at Sears, the Wall Street newsletter said.
The investor isn't saying why he bought the stake, which equals about 3.5 percent of Sears' outstanding shares. But his ability to press for change is limited, given that Lampert owns 46 percent of the Hoffman Estates-based retailer. Add in the holdings of Lampert's fellow investors on the board, and Lampert holds sway over more than half of the company.
'I don't think this is likely to be an activist situation because of the controlling interest Lampert has,' said Whitney Tilson, managing partner at T2 Partners LLC, which holds about 70,000 Sears shares. 'I suspect he owns it for the same reason we own it. The stock is beaten up and there's a lot of embedded real estate value.'
That hasn't stopped speculation that Ackman would push for real estate sales, something he has done at other companies, including McDonald's Corp.
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