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Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square says it’s ‘returning to its roots,’ and it shed a third of its staff in 2018 as part of the journey

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Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square says it’s ‘returning to its roots,’ and it shed a third of its staff in 2018 as part of the journey

Bill Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management.

Reuters

  • Bill Ackman’s $7.9 billion Pershing Square hedge fund lost a third of its staff in 2018, dropping from 56 employees to 38, according to an investor presentation.
  • The staff cuts, which were the first listed “strategic priority” for the firm, let Pershing become a “more focused and investment-centric organization.”
  • Pershing Square has been off to a hot start in 2019, returning 24.7% through Tuesday and adding nearly $1.5 billion in assets to the fund in six weeks.

Billionaire Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square shed a third of its staff in 2018, as the firm looked to cut costs and shift strategies.

The cuts are a way of the firm “returning to its roots,” according to a recent investor presentation.

$7.9 billion Pershing began the year with 56 employees and ended with 38, including layoffs, retirements and departures that will not be filled. The firm’s headcount peak was at the end of 2015, when 74 people worked at the hedge fund and assets topped $18.3 billion.

The smaller staff, the presentation states, will lead to a “more focused and investment-centric organization.” In a section titled “Stable Path Ahead”, the presentation states that Pershing now has “the right team in place to compound our capital for years without any meaningful headcount changes.”

The firm’s investment team now includes eight people, including Ackman, after Ali Navram and Brian Welch left the firm in 2018.

See more: It’s a billionaire bounceback as Einhorn, Ackman, and Edelman all post good January returns, after a brutal 2018

The firm had its 2018 gains wiped out by a disastrous December, finishing the year down 0.7%. But Pershing increased assets by $1.5 billion in the first six weeks of 2019 and returned 24.7% through Tuesday. Going forward, Pershing’s growth will come from its performance, not asset gathering, the presentation said.

The manager will move into its Hell’s Kitchen office at 787 11th Avenue in the second quarter of 2019, a year and a half after the firm originally was scheduled to leave its 888 Seventh Avenue office.

A Pershing Square spokesman declined to comment further on the firm’s plans.

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