Monday, March 10, 2014
Pershing Square, Herbalife, and Chinese law
You have to be impressed with Pershing Square's PR operation. Those who don't read the business section might still have heard of William Ackman and his hedge fund Pershing Square's campaign against Herbalife, as it was the top story on the front page of today's New York Times. Ackman has a huge short position in Herbalife and is trying to talk down its stock by saying it's a pyramid operation. (I report this simply as a fact and express no opinion on whether Ackman's allegations are true.)
Today I received an email from someone at the Global Strategy Group, a PR firm, alerting me to a webcast Pershing Square is putting on tomorrow. The webcast will charge that Herbalife's operations in China violate Chinese law, presumably because of their alleged pyramidal nature. (My recollection is that China passed a law prohibiting pyramid sales structures after some early bad experiences in the 1980s or 90s, but I don't have the details at my fingertips.) I don't plan on watching the webcast and (since I don't have an opinion on the merits) it's not really my job to provide publicity for one side in this dispute, so I'm not going to provide the link here. But at a time when China is cracking down disproportionately on foreign firms, it will be interesting to see if Pershing Square manages to stir up some official action in China against Herbalife.