Hedge Funds

Five years after brawl with Icahn, Ackman exits losing bet against Herbalife

Key Points
  • Five years ago, Bill Ackman and fellow activist investor Carl Icahn got into a verbal fight over Herbalife on CNBC.
  • Ackman's bet against Herbalife proved disastrous, and he said in November he had closed out the short position and taken on put options.
  • Now, Ackman says his Pershing Square Capital has exited the nutritional supplement company he had derided as a pyramid scheme.
Pershing Square builds stake in United Technologies

Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital has exited its Herbalife bet five years after his on-air verbal brawl with Carl Icahn on CBNC.

Ackman told CNBC's Scott Wapner on Wednesday in a phone call that he had unwound the position. Herbalife shares jumped 9 percent to an all time high on Wednesday.

The activist investor had placed a massive bet against the nutritional supplement maker he accused of running a pyramid scheme. He expected the shares to fall to zero, enabling him to profit on his short sale of the stock.

Bill Ackman
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

But the bet proved disastrous. Last November, after Herbalife shares had climbed 51 percent for the year, he announced he had closed out the short position he had in the shares and converted it into a bet using put options.

The Icahn-Ackman fight happened on Jan. 25, 2013, while Ackman was being interviewed by telephone by Wapner. Ackman was responding to attacks by Icahn the previous day over Ackman's claims that Herbalife was "a well-managed pyramid scheme."

Icahn called in to the show, saying "Ackman is a liar" and that he had "one of the worst reputations on Wall Street."

"I've really about had it with this guy," Icahn said. "He's like the crybaby in the schoolyard."

Business Insider labeled it "The Greatest Moment In Financial TV History."

The two made up a year later.

Watch the 2013 Icahn-Ackman brawl

Missed the Big Fight? Watch It Now