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Ackman Focused on JC Penney Operations, Not Real Estate Deal

Bill Ackman, the activist investor whose Pershing Square Capital took a 16.5 percent ownership stake in J.C. Penney last fall, has not been pushing the company to broadly pursue a transaction to create value, but rather has been engaged with the company in conversations about how it can improve its operations, according to sources.

William Ackman
William Ackman

When Ackman took the position in Penney, along with a 9.9 percent position purchased by the real estate investment trust Vornado, many assumed the two parties would push Penney to pursue a transaction that would monetize the value of its real estate.

Sources tell me, however, that Ackman’s discussions have not been focused on any “quick deal," but on operational improvements the mall-based retailer can undertake to improve its earnings.

Ackman is apparently optimistic on the future for mall-based operators, as opposed to many in the investment community. Sources tell me that while his approach could change, he has so far been “collaborative” .

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