UPDATE 1-Ackman exits bet against Herbalife, building stake in United Tech - CNBC

CNBC@ (Adds background, updates shares)

Feb 28 (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management has exited its bet against nutritional supplement maker Herbalife Ltd and has been building a stake in aircraft parts maker United Technologies Corp, the investor told CNBC on Wednesday.

Ackman said he thought United Tech was a great company, CNBC reported. (http://cnb.cx/2HUollQ)

The company's shares rose as much as 3.4 percent to $138.49.

United Tech's Chief Executive Greg Hayes said last week the company was exploring a breakup of its business portfolio, including jet engines, elevators and air conditioners.

Both United Technologies and Pershing Square declined to comment.

Earlier in the day, Herbalife said it planned to change its corporate name, refinance debt and effect a 2-for-1 stock split to boost shareholder returns, sending its shares up 7 percent to an all-time high.

Ackman's Herbalife move comes after a years-long bitter public spat with the company's management and investor Carl Icahn.

Ever since Ackman took a $1 billion short position against Herbalife in 2012, he has criticized the company as a pyramid scheme, saying its operating model benefits distributors more than the actual users of products.

He expected the company's shares to fall to zero. Instead Herbalife's shares have risen since Ackman made the short bet, forcing him to close that position last year and limit his losses by taking a position in options to sell shares. (Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)